Position Statement on the Role of Freestanding Emergency Centers in Natural Disaster

The role of the freestanding emergency department is to serve the community and to provide surge protection in the event of a natural disaster. That being said, the freestanding emergency center should only stay open IF POSSIBLE. This decision should be made based on a predetermined disaster plan which should include the following points:

  • Each plan should be made in coordination with the center’s transfer hospital and local emergency response.
  • Each plan should identify ways to communicate with local response and the response command center – this should include plans in the event of landline and cellphone loss.
  • Each plan should identify the capabilities of their generators.
  • Each plan should include a plan for sufficient food, water, and other necessary supplies.

A freestanding emergency center should not stay open if:

  • It would be unsafe for staff.
  • Local response would not be able to reach the center.
  • The center is in a flood zone.
  • The center does not have the proper food, water, or back-up power supply.

Statement developed by the AAEM Freestanding Emergency Centers Interest Group.


Approved: June 7, 2019