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Ascension Via Christi St. Francis earns national disaster-preparedness recognition

Ascension Via Christi St. Francis recently became the first healthcare facility in Kansas to achieve “StormReady” designation from the National Weather Service.
Carolyn Koehn, Ascension’s director of Emergency Management for Kansas and Oklahoma, says that the application was submitted in May and a site survey by representatives from the National Weather Service and emergency management professionals from outside Kansas counties was conducted last month to assess the hospital’s preparedness.
“We actually began reviewing our disaster preparedness processes to ensure that we either met or exceeded all the requirements last Spring,” says Koehn, who received word of the three-year designation last week. “It’s important because while Emergency Management activities largely go on behind the scenes, this confirms for our associates, patients, visitors and community our commitment to disaster preparedness for whatever type of weather emergency might come our way.”
Nearly all federally-declared disasters are weather-related and claim around 500 deaths per year and cause nearly $15 billion in damage. The StormReady program is designed to arm counties, Indian nations, universities and colleges, military bases, government sites, commercial enterprises and other groups with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before, during and after all types of extreme weather events — from tornadoes to winter storms.  
The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. To be officially StormReady, applicants must have:
  • Established a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
  • More than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public
  • Created a system that monitors weather conditions locally 
  • Promoted the importance of public readiness through community seminars
  • Developed a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
Plans are in the works to achieve StormReady designation for Ascension Via Christi’s other Kansas hospitals, Koehn says.
Ascension Via Christi St. Francis is Sedgwick County's only StormReady Commerical site. 
About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.