As a travel nurse, you’re driven to provide care to people across the country. Whether you travel for the adventure, or to help those in the most need, your journeys will probably take you to unique and unexpected places. Depending on where you go, you may find that your nursing skills are needed to care for patients who have been caught in natural disasters.
Natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) are becoming more and more common, and if you’re working as a travel nurse, you might find yourself providing care to people who have been affected.
You also might want to help people who have been displaced or harmed by natural disasters. This article will help you understand what you can do as a travel nurse when a natural disaster strikes. The work may be hard, but the reward for helping those who need it most is great!
What to Do if You’re on Assignment During a Natural Disaster
As a nurse, you’re one of the first to respond to the victims of a natural disaster. Your clinical skills will be challenged, and you will need to keep your composure while caring for many patients and working long hours.
When it’s time to care for patients, nurses will be split into response teams. If you’ve been with the facility for a while, you may be assigned to the immediate response team, but if you are a more recent addition to the team, you’ll probably be assigned to the aftermath response team. This team will come in after the storm has passed to relieve the immediate response team.
If you are assigned to the immediate response team, it’s important to understand what to expect. If you’re assigned to the immediate response team, you will not be able evacuate the area. The facility will house you while the storm hits, and you are expected to work throughout the storm. However, in most cases you will be paid for the time you spend at the facility, even when you are resting between shifts.
Depending on the conditions, and your assigned response team, you may not be able to return to your temporary housing, so make sure you have what you need at your facility. Make sure to pack a bag of your must-haves, while the hospital will provide beds, linens, and food (the essentials). Hospitals are usually the best place to be during a natural disaster.
How Travel Nurses Can Help Disaster Relief Efforts
If you feel driven to help areas that have been stricken by natural disasters, your best bet is to volunteer with one of the many nursing non-profits that are dedicated to sending nurses where they are needed most. Here are a few of the best agencies to work with to help relief efforts:
- RN Response Network: RN Response Network was created by National Nurses United in direct response to the need for assistance when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the U.S. in 2005. Since then, they have helped send nurses to numerous sites in need of aid.
- American Red Cross: The American Red Cross is one of the largest disaster relief organizations and has placed thousands of volunteers in disaster-stricken areas. It also supports its nurse volunteers with the Nursing Network, which all Red Cross nurses are a part of. The Nursing Network ensures that nurses and health professionals are supported in their volunteer efforts.
- Local Relief Agencies: If you want to volunteer in a specific area, you may want to work with a local relief agency, like Volunteer Florida or the Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry.