Several destructive storms recently swept through our region, downing trees and power lines, leaving thousands without electricity for days on end. Fortunately, thanks to the dedicated staff, which for some it meant forging their way through unimaginable conditions to ensure patient care here at Walter Reed Bethesda was not impacted, and for that I am forever grateful.
With this year’s hurricane season expected to end Nov. 30 and predicted to be a 50% near-normal season for our region by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), according to NOAA, it is a general guide and doesn’t mean hurricane disasters can’t occur if a season is relatively quiet. So, I urge you to please take the following precautions to continue to keep you and your family safe and to ensure uninterrupted patient care during this often unpredictable time of year.
Within your workplace, be sure you’ve designated emergency personnel, and communicate with one another through a consistently updated emergency recall roster. In addition, to ensure personnel can be accounted for, please continue to update the Personnel Accountability Systems, required by the Services, the Air Force Personnel Accountability and Assessment System (AFPAAS), the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability System (ADPAA), and the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS). Marines should continue reporting to their unit’s Marine On-Line (MOL) system to track their accountability.
When it comes to protecting your family and home against storm damage, following a few simple measures and implementing lessons learned from past storms could make all the difference. First off, when you become aware of a storm tracking through your area, please check your yard for potential items that may cause damage. This might mean securing any objects such as outdoor furniture, trash cans or hanging plants that could be picked up by the wind. Also, prior to storm season, one might benefit from removing diseased limbs from trees to make them more wind resistant.
During a storm, having a sufficient supply of bottled water, non-perishable items and prescription medications on hand, as well as a manual can opener, flashlight, a radio with plenty of extra working batteries, and a first aid kit is also recommended. As witnessed by the past storm, it also may be a good idea to keep at least a half a tank a gas in your car and a fair amount of cash on hand in the event that gas stations and banks are closed.
Regardless of where you are when a storm hits, pay attention to the news, listen for announcements from officials and be ready to act quickly. I also urge you to ensure our most vulnerable population, the elderly and children, are out of harm’s way.
After the storm has ended, use caution when assessing your area, stay tuned for updates as to the impact a storm might have had on your community and Walter Reed Bethesda’s operating status and ensure any food that may have perished is handled properly. Also, if you have experienced damage from a storm, contact your insurance company to find out if you can be compensated.
As always, please remember to keep safety at the forefront not only during this stormy and unpredictable season, but year-round. What you do matters!!! We can’t fulfill our mission without you.
Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks
Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center