Medical assistants undergo countless hours of training, with clear task and duty expectations laid out along the way—but those expectations become fuzzy when catastrophe strikes. As of October 8, 2020, 72 massive wildfires burned over 4.3 million acres of the western portion of the United States. Ten hurricanes struck the U.S. from January through October, causing chaos and despair across several states. When these tragedies hit, you have the ability as a medical assistant to step up and help those in need. Sometimes that means helping in a different state, performing tasks that aren't linked to your job title, or even working outside the hospital.
It can be overwhelming if you're not adequately prepared, but there are a few things you can do before and during a natural disaster to help you feel more equipped.
How To Prepare
Everyone knows the basics of preparation: Stock up on water and non-perishables, safeguard your home and gather essential supplies. For MAs, you have to do all of this on top of caring for yourself, your family, and others.
Here’s what a medical assistant should do to prepare for a disaster.
- Register to Volunteer
While many people decide to volunteer after a tragic event happens, it's more helpful to register and train with an organization beforehand. Training with a relief agency ahead of time will help you perform better in the face of crisis and lead to better outcomes for your patients. On top of the different training strategies, each organization has varying levels of involvement and unique requirements. Be sure to choose one that works best with your lifestyle. If you plan on volunteering out of state, look up the state's licensing laws as they tend to vary across state lines.
Need help finding an organization? Start here with these well-known organizations: The American Red Cross, FEMA, and the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals.
- Update Certifications
To avoid any unnecessary legal trouble, double-check your certifications to be sure they’re up to date. If they’re not current, you risk facing liability issues if something goes wrong. Recertifying is also a great way to brush up on skills that may have dulled.
If you need to get recertified in CPR, First Aid, or AED, learn more here.
- Gather Supplies
Having an emergency supply kit on your person at all times can be life-saving. If you're not sure what your kit should include, look at this compiled list developed by the Mayo Clinic. It includes everything from necessary supplies and medications to emergency items (like waterproof matches). If you already have a medical kit, check the expirations and replace anything used, such as batteries or ointments.
What To Do During An Emergency Situation
During a crisis, people will react in various ways, but as a medical assistant, you must step up and take charge. Taking control in a disaster situation isn’t easy, but these steps will help keep you safe as you navigate your role.
- Your safety is most important. If you are injured, you won't be able to help.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Seek assistance if you need some backup.
- Assess the level of danger and the environment around you. Again, keep yourself safe.
- Know your skill set and level of expertise. Doing anything outside of your ability could cause more harm than good.
Your role as a medical assistant is at its most valuable in times of tragedy. Your education and training prepare you to help care for those in need of assistance during emergencies.
How To Become A Medical Assistant
Are you ready to play a vital role in your community? Looking for a career in the healthcare industry? If so, then a career as a medical assistant or a patient care technician might be perfect for you. At Woodruff, our knowledgeable instructors provide detailed and thorough training through in-class learning and real-world experience. Best of all, you don't have to worry about high-cost tuition. We offer financing and payment plans that fit your needs, so you can focus on earning your degree and beginning your career.