On May 19, Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Braselton became the first commercial site in the state of Georgia and one of the first hospitals in the nation to receive StormReady certification from the National Weather Service (NWS).
In 1999, the StormReady certification program was created to help communities guard against the ravages of severe weather, said David J. Nadler, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS. It helps communities better protect their citizens during severe weather, and were proud to recognize NGMC Braselton as the first commercial StormReady site in Georgia.
The voluntary program encourages businesses, communities and emergency managers to take a proactive approach to improving safety and severe weather procedures and provides clear-cut guidelines for that improvement.
The safety of patients and staff has been a priority here since before we ever opened our doors, said Anthony Williamson, president of NGMC Braselton. Safety during hazardous weather conditions is no exception. We had years of practice preparing for, and responding to, severe weather in Gainesville. We brought all of that experience to Braselton and improved those processes where we could.
Initially designed for counties and municipalities, the StormReady program has been expanded over the last two years to include military installations, universities and large commercial sites. The StormReady designation for healthcare organizations is new and has been achieved by less than 10 health systems nationwide.
To become StormReady, a community or business must:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
- Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public
- Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
- Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
- Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises
For NGMC Braselton, the certification process lasted one year. In addition to completing the application, NGMC Braselton hosted representatives from NWS for a survey of the hospital campus and visited the NWS regional office in Peachtree City to learn about the various ways the weather service is able to broadcast warnings. Hospital emergency preparedness and security staff are now able to communicate during severe weather and disaster events through a Weather Service Chat feature that is only open to emergency services. Through this chat feature, NGMC Braselton receives real time updates from emergency managers around the region.
Preparing for severe weather is a never-ending job, said Williamson, and we are delighted to be recognized by the National Weather Service with the StormReady certification. It is an honor to be a part of the National Weather Services effort to save lives and reduce the impacts from any severe weather that may occur in our area.?