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13 Ways Doctors of Chiropractic Can Participate During a Broader Medical Emergency or Natural Disaster

DCs have important roles to play during crisis events.

While the world's focus may be on COVID-19, Mother Nature doesn't rest, as we've seen with recent devastation by tornadoes. Here are ways you can help during a medical emergency or natural disaster.

DCs are medical professionals, which means you have a role to play during large medical events — and sometimes even before. When California issued a call for medical volunteers in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Doctors of Chiropractic worked with their state association to have DCs added to the database. Ohio and Colorado followed their lead and also ensured their doctors were empowered to help.

There are a number of ways your training, experience and resources can be used to benefit your community during a crisis.

Identify, Triage or Treat

  • You may be the first to recognize a disaster. The first signs and symptoms of epidemics and bio terroristic agents are often malaise, aches, headache and low-grade fever — all of which are common presenting complaints in many chiropractic patients. Additionally, most chiropractic patients are seen multiple times in close succession, which allows for recognition and tracking of trends in individuals and populations.
  • Providing evacuation site assistance. Because you are trained in administrative skills, history-taking, screening and recording, you may work at an evacuation site doing basic care, screening, or administrative tasks similar to Red Cross Mass Care.
  • Use your training at emergency or disaster sites. Should you be first or early to the scene of a disaster site, you may be called on as first-responder to use your emergency skills.
  • Help treat disaster workers. Two of the most common problems faced by those working in a crisis — doctors, nurses, first responders, and others — are stress and musculoskeletal injuries. Chiropractors are uniquely trained to deal with those issues with minimal equipment in situations where pharmaceuticals are not appropriate or not available.
  • Care for the caregivers. If you are working at a disaster site, help ensure the caregivers are caring for themselves. This could mean providing “rehab” i.e. assessment, treatment or referral of emergency workers for hydration, nutrition, injury, stress, psychological issues, etc.

  • Replace a doctor who is sick or needed elsewhere. If another doctor gets sick or is volunteering and unavailable to treat their regular patients you can step in to help. You may also serve as Locum tenens for other doctors who are serving at the site or offer office space to those whose buildings have been damaged.

Offer Your Resources

  • Your office may be the only healthcare provider or facility available after a disaster, especially in rural areas, or in the case of quarantine, destruction or contamination of the local medical center. If you’re in a small town where you have a single hospital or a medical center, you could become the place where other medical professionals can see non-infectious people.
  • Offer your office as a secondary medical facility. Because many DCs have X-rays and other diagnostic equipment, your practice could become an alternative when other clinics or providers are overextended or designated for specific cases.
  • Serve at drive-up testing locations. In cities where drive-up testing becomes available during a pandemic or other medical emergency, your medical skills will be in demand as staff is needed to administer testing at multiple locations.
  • Organize collections of needed goods and money, organize team schedules, or serve as the communication link. Some of the best ways to help are also the simplest. Designate your practice as a drop-off spot for donations of masks, PPE and food. If you own your building and have a parking lot, allow temporary medical personnel to park their camper or RV in your lot overnight.

Before & After the Crisis

  • Serve on a “readiness” team at sports events, political rallies, concerts or fairs. Hopefully you won’t be needed, but you can be at the ready in case something does happen.
  • Provide support post-event as a member of a debriefing or assessment team. Your expertise and observations could help provide unique insight into how to improve responses and reactions next time.
  • Work on special teams. Taskforces and committees may arise around issues such as radiation screening, decontamination, creating a strategic national stockpile, etc.
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