When a tornado strikes, healthcare facilities are in a unique position. Hospitals are regarded as safe havens and are expected to provide patient care and protection 24/7 during an emergency.

Tornado season is an annual and frightening occurrence that most American healthcare facilities must protect against. On average, 1,000 tornadoes hit the United States each year, more than any other country in the world. As a vital asset in the response and recovery of a community following a tornado, hospitals must maintain focus on treating patients. When every second counts, healthcare facilities have to react quickly.

A majority of facilities already have emergency plans in place, and it is important that all providers are prepared and ready in case disaster strikes. When creating or updating an emergency plan, facilities should ensure their plans are particularly thorough when it comes to tornados. Swift-moving cyclones make it difficult to respond in a timely manner unless plans are comprehensive and determined well in advance.

Hospitals should also develop a clear understanding of assets and vulnerabilities when creating their plans. Nearby hospitals that would be willing to house patients in the event of evacuation must also be incorporated in plans. Ensure a secure line of communication amongst various facilities in the area - you’re all in this together.

It’s not enough for plans to be created hypothetically, though. Disaster plans must be vetted by knowledgeable personnel and practiced regularly so everyone is prepared. Considerations should include safe shelter locations, accountability procedures, frequent training practices and more.

Given the short lifespan and extremely damaging effects of tornadoes, it is also vital the right communication infrastructure is in place. Communication must be clear, accurate and rapid in order to be effective. Social media can allow a hospital to share news in real time with a large audience, but it has also created the expectation of instant updates. Therefore, communication infrastructure should be created at both the internal and external levels.

Medxcel took steps to ensure our managed facilities’ communications are always on when we joined forces with FirstNet, public safety’s dedicated communications platform. This tech upgrade allows us to equip eligible hospital personnel with new capabilities and reliable wireless access to critical information, so we can better serve patients at our facilities across the country no matter how destructive the tornado.

A tornado can wreak havoc in an instance. If your hospital isn’t prepared, the consequences can range from the loss of community trust all the way to the loss of lives. Is your hospital prepared to take on tornado season?