Be Safe, Be Prepared: Emergency System for Advanced Registration in Disaster Response

Cheryl Peterson, MSN, RN



Following the September 11, 2001, incident in the United States (US) and subsequent natural disasters, the US, like other countries, has focused on improving its overall disaster response capabilities. One mechanism that is under development to improve the country's surge capacity, i.e., its ability to substantially increase the number of volunteer health care professionals available to respond during a disaster, is the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESARVHP). Registries, like ESAR-VHP, are significant tools for disaster planning and deployment. The goal of ESAR-VHP is to create a state-based registry of volunteer health professionals, verify their credentials prior to a disaster, and provide opportunities for education and training in disaster response. Each of these steps is necessary in ensuring access to patient services during an emergency, while also providing for the safety of the volunteer health professional. This article speaks to the registered nurse as a volunteer acting within these types of registries. Specifically, it addresses the development of a personal and professional response plan, and registration programs that provide the preparation needed to enable a nurse responder to work effectively within a disaster response team and facilitate preregistration with one and only one registry. The legal implications of responding are also discussed.

Purpose/Goal: To identify strengths and challenges facing healthcare professionals and disaster response.


1. Describe the roles and responsibilities of a nurse volunteer.
2. Explain the importance of registering for potential deployment during a disaster and legal implications.
3. Describe the impact of health care personnel volunteer registry on disaster response planning.


Cheryl A. Peterson, MSN, RN, is the Director of Nursing Planning and Policy for the American Nurses Association (ANA). She is responsible for researching and developing association policy related to preparing for and responding to a disaster, whether man-made or natural. Since 1998, Ms. Peterson has been actively involved in disaster planning at the federal level. In addition, she coordinated ANA's response to the Tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia and to hurricanes during the 2005 U.S. hurricane season. Ms. Peterson spent 13 years in the Reserve Army Nurse Corps and in 1990, was deployed during Desert Storm. She also spent 7 years as an active volunteer in the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department (Montgomery County, Maryland). Ms. Peterson received her BSN from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio and her MSN from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

The planners and author of this CNE activity have disclosed no relevant financial relationships with any commercial company pertaining to this activity.

Contact Hours: 1.64

Expiration Date: 6/1/2012


Member Price: $0.00
Non-Member Price: $20.00

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