By Executive Director Gail T. Brown, CRC, LRC, LCSW
October was a busy month for us at NEV, filled with lots of events and parties, but before the month ended, our emergency preparedness plan was tested, adding a bit more to our task list. A storm that packed powerful winds blew in on a Sunday night, leaving most of the South Shore, as well as other parts of the state, without any power on Monday morning. As is typical of New England Village, our staff—from administrative personnel to the DSPs to the maintenance department, rallied together like a high-performing team to ensure that quality supports and services remained in place and that everyone was safe and comfortable during the power outage.
Despite a lack of lighting, heating and other basic necessities at the Sollar Wellness Center, staff there did an outstanding job of creating some last minute activities. From an art offering to fitness fun to Halloween Hangman to Table Top games, there were plenty of activities to keep participants busy and entertained.
While we could have viewed this storm as a major disruption and become annoyed by the aggravation it caused, instead we chose to look at it as an opportunity to reassess our plan, to see what worked well and what areas needed to be fine-tuned.
In New England, the best time to discover that equipment needs to be repaired or that emergency plans need to be updated, is before the first snowflake falls and cold temperatures set in. This October storm provided us with such an opportunity and we seized it. Though all of our homes and facilities are equipped with generators, one of the machines needs to be repaired and we will have that fixed before winter arrives. Though we have a good communication plan in place, we discovered that our contact lists need to be updated, and we are now working on this task. Storms like the one we experienced on October 30 inform of us some of our weaknesses and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to strengthen these areas. Fortunately, NEV has a well-developed emergency preparedness plan in place which ensures the safety and well-being of our residents, day participants, and staff. And we are hoping that we will not be testing that plan again—at least not until next fall!