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Posted on 04.30.2009

Is Your Crisis Communication Crash Cart Ready?

Is your crisis communication crash cart ready?

You guessed it! It is time for another PR / medical analogy from the resident Lovell nurse. There have been a lot of crises in the news lately - the swine flu, the global financial downturn, Lindsay Lohan's love life. Thankfully, most of our clients are well-prepared to respond to crises because they have put a crisis communications plan in place. Naturally, I find a way to relate this to my clinical experience and equate crisis preparation to the development of code response plans.

And so the analogy unfolds: Our clinical audience is certainly familiar with the crash cart. The crash cart contains array of emergency drugs and equipment neatly organized and easily accessible in the event of a code - or serious patient emergency, such as cardiac arrest.

Hospitals and clinical personnel realize the importance of planning ahead for this type of emergency. Waiting until a crisis arises to make decisions could be disastrous in these life-and- death situations. So in preparation, code response teams, (made up of nurses, physicians and other clinical personnel), designate each team member's role and how each person should react the instant a code is announced.

This should serve as an example for companies of all sizes. Planning how your team will react in a time of crisis determines the overall impact a crisis will have on your customers, your employees and your organization. A crisis is no time to start making decisions.

Just as the medications in the crash cart and emergency equipment must be routinely checked for expiration dates and to verify everything is in working order, the crisis plan should also be revisited on an annual basis. (Clinicians, this is your "Mock Code.")

Many plans are great in theory and look even better on paper, but when put in practice, problems arise. We usually recommend an annual "tabletop run through," during which the crisis team assembles and we present various crisis scenarios and work through the plan with the various departments that would have a role in responding to a crisis. This gives everyone the opportunity to catch glitches in the plan and identify details of the plan that should be reworked and updated.

When it comes to a crisis, it is better to have a plan on a shelf that you never have to use than to be caught in a crisis without one!

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