UNU-EHS joins new research project on emergency preparedness planning for water supply in health care facilities

  • 2020•08•20     Bonn, Germany

    Photo: Unsplash / Piron Guillaume

    Health care facilities, especially hospitals, form an indispensable part of critical infrastructure. A functioning operation is essential for crisis management. While scenarios for power failure are accounted for in emergency planning of hospitals, the maintenance of water supply and disposal is rarely considered. Yet, water is a prerequisite for the functioning of hospitals and thus for the safety of the patients.

    The newly established joint “Emergency preparedness planning for water supply and sanitation in health care facilities – organisational and technical solution strategies to increase resilience (NOWATER)” project, which is led by the University of the German Federal Armed Forces Munich, will therefore focus on developing technical and organizational solutions and strategies for water-related risk management in hospitals and other health care facilities.

    UNU-EHS is proud to be a member of the interdisciplinary research project alongside the TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences, the German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and others. The three-year research project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the “Research for Civil Security” programme.

    Among others, the project will develop a practical guide for operators of critical health infrastructures. This guideline covers the entire area of risk and crisis management to ensure water supply and disposal: Starting with practical methods of criticality, vulnerability and risk analysis, through emergency preparedness planning to the preparation of corresponding deployment plans within the framework of hospital alarm planning.

    UNU-EHS specifically will focus on organisational aspects of emergency preparedness planning. This approach is based on the understanding that successful emergency preparedness can only be achieved through the interplay of technical and organisational processes and that the “human factor” and social resilience are of elementary importance for strengthening the resilience of health infrastructure.

    The first scientific objective of the project is therefore to record the current state of knowledge and, on the other hand, to cluster factors that favor and hinder successful contingency planning and bridging of crises. The second scientific objective is the recording and systematisation of organisational structures, obstacles, but also existing informal processes, which could be helpful in the event of a crisis.

    In the context of challenges to be expected in the case of supply bottlenecks or failures in infrastructure, knowledge about organizational structures and the tasks of the various actors is of great relevance. The practical aim of the project is therefore to involve actors more closely in the development of resilience and minimum care concepts in hospitals.

    To learn more about the NOWATER project, read our partner’s press release here (in German) or visit the project page here.