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Working in the Cancer Registry During Evacuation
Working in the Cancer Registry

By Cancer Information Specialist Lisa Orr

Will you be ready to evacuate if Mother Nature comes knocking at your door in the form of a natural disaster? And have you ever considered how you might be able to continue working in the cancer registry during an evacuation?

Last year there were evacuations all over the United States in the form of storms, fires and floods. Where I live, in the central part of Utah, I was caught between three wildfires. We were evacuated from our home with a 15-minute notice, but because we were prepared we were able to escape the fires with many of our valued belongings. For many years I have kept a list on my phone called a BOB – short for bug-out bag. The items on this list are in order of priority starting with our 48-hour kit, then important documents (which are all kept in a handy binder), medications, heirlooms and so on. The fires to the south and east had started weeks earlier so we were prepared with most items already loaded into our RV. 

Because I was prepared, when the official notice came to evacuate I was able to go down the list and get a few more things including my work laptop, screens, cords, etc. We left our house not knowing how long we’d be gone or if we’d even have a home to come back to. We were fortunate enough to be able to set up our RV at my daughter’s house and its small dinette became my office. Next, I partnered with our amazing support services here at CHAMPS to make sure I had everything I needed to make my temporary work solution work:

  • Unfortunately, my daughter’s secure Wi-Fi was not strong enough to reach where we were parked. After a few phone calls between my CHAMPS Oncology manager and our awesome IT department, we had a solution that enabled me to continue working in the cancer registry. If I had stayed at a hotel, it would have been important to take necessary steps to ensure the hotel internet had proper encryption. Data security and privacy are paramount in this industry.
  • Since my equipment was all the same equipment I used at home, my temporary setup worked seamlessly. I had access to all the data I normally would have. And even if I had to leave my equipment behind when I evacuated, CHAMPS would have overnighted equipment to me so I could continue to do my work. I was relieved to learn this – it would never be worth it to risk your life running back for work equipment in an emergency situation.
  • IT support was available for anything I needed and to make sure my connections were secure because protecting client cancer data is our highest priority.
  • I notified all my team and key members of our clientele on the best way to reach me if needed.

Overall, I had minimal downtime at work during my emergency evacuation, though we were out of our home for 2 ½ weeks. The most important lesson in all of this is that nobody is immune to fire, floods, storms or natural disasters of any kind. If you are prepared you will be able to execute your plan if and when the time comes. Nearly 500,000 acres were burned in Utah alone. I was blessed to go back to my home, unlike many others around the nation who were not so lucky. If the need arises again this spring due to the massive flooding we’re expecting, I will once again be prepared and with the help of CHAMPS, I know I will be able to continue working in the cancer registry in a safe environment.

What’s at the top of your BOB list that might help you get back to work in the cancer registry quickly after an emergency evacuation?

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