Why a disaster is not just normal business ramped up: Disaster response among ED nurses

Karen Hammad, Paul Arbon, Kristine Gebbie, Alison Hutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The emergency department (ED) is a familiar place for the emergency nurse who spends their working days inside it. A disaster threatens that familiarity and creates changes that make working in the ED during a disaster response different from the everyday experience of working in the ED. Methods: This research reports on an aspect of the findings from a larger study about the experience of working as a nurse in the ED during a disaster response. Thirteen nurses from 8 different countries were interviewed about their experience. Results: The findings from this research demonstrate that a disaster event leads to a chain reaction of changes in process, space and practice. Nurses’ respond to the news of a disaster event with shock and disbelief. The ED may change as a result of the event requiring nurses to work in an altered environment or a completely different setting. These changes provoke nurses to alter their behaviour and practice and reflect on the experience after the response. Conclusions: Emergency nurses have a high likelihood of participating in disaster response and as such should be adequately prepared. This highlights how disaster response is different and leads to recommendations to enhance training for emergency nurses which will better prepare them Disasterresponse is not normal business ramped up. There are a number of challenges and changes that should be considered when preparing emergency nurses for the realities of disaster response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Emergency Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Nurses
  • Emergency service
  • Hospital
  • Emergencies
  • Disasters
  • Mass casualty incidents
  • Hermeneutics


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