ACT News

Drugs, pills top emergency list for evacuation too

If there was a sudden emergency, some people might think about saving their photos, sentimental possessions or even a laptop but one academic has warned some may not be adequately "health prepared" should disaster strike. 

University of Canberra assistant professor in nursing Jamie Ranse said while many people thought about the personal and sentimental items they might save, less consideration tended to be given to what medication or first aid skills might be required in the event of an emergency. 

"We know from previous disasters, even going back to the Canberra bushfires and some of our more recent ones around extreme weather events in Queensland and fires in Victoria, when people get evacuated from their homes and go to places such as evacuation centres, they commonly don't take things such as their medication or adequate supplies of their medications," he said. 

"In some cases, people don't take a list of their medications and knowledge about what medications they take. Doctors and nurses then spend a lot of time trying to problem solve with individuals about what medications they should take. 

"It's really important, particularly for people with chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes, that they have the adequate medication with them. 

"The other thing people can do is just have a good understanding of their previous surgical and medical history and that will always help people problem solve current issues that they might have if they present for health needs at an evacuation centre." 

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Assistant Professor Ranse also recommends people have basic first aid skills, which could be prove invaluable in times when emergency services might be very busy.  

"If we see a disaster happen in the Canberra region which would place excess stress on our existing emergency services, such as police, fire, ambulances and emergency departments, it might mean people with minor injuries need to look after themselves for a period of time while those emergency services are trying to cater for the more seriously injured patients," he said. 

He said planning ahead and being prepared for emergencies was vital, particularly at times like the bushfire season, which started on Wednesday.

"It's also about having an understanding of your support networks, ensuring your immediate family members know when you're going to be and what your movements will be, knowing about elderly neighbours or other people in your local area that might be vulnerable and need assistance to evacuate," he said.

"Aside from the health needs, there are also the other things that people need in general day-to-day living such as non-perishable foods, perhaps some blankets, just generally preparing homes for fire awareness activities."

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