Community Nursing Survey Focuses on Middletown, Emergency Response Plan


Thank you to the 100 residents of Middletown who participated in a disaster preparedness survey we conducted in February at the local Karn’s and Giant grocery stores. A group of Penn State University Harrisburg nursing students enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program and whose studies focus on community nursing, chose to examine disaster preparedness in Middletown.


Last semester they had the privilege of meeting and interviewing with Middletown Mayor Robert Reid. "We were very impressed with his foresight and formal disaster community plan he instituted years ago for Middletown in the case of an unexpected disaster. And because of his prudent and wise decision to create and formalize a community disaster plan, this community was able to survive the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979 in a more effective manner," the group stated in a report of their survey findings. 

"After our interview with the mayor, we had some questions for the residents concerning personal disaster preparedness. Our objective was to survey 100 residents of Middletown using the following questions, and then we would follow up with the educational interest to reinforce what your community’s officials and organizations have already established as the plan of action and how to be well prepared before a possible disaster happens in your neighborhood."

Here is what the survey found: 


Question 1: Are you aware of, or do you have a copy of the Middletown evacuation plan?

Survey Results: 65% of respondents are aware of the evacuation plan.

Question 2: How did you obtain this information?

Survey Results: 40% of all information received came from yearly flyers mailed out to each home. 22% of residents search for a route/plan in the telephone book. The remaining percent listed several sources.

Question 3: If in the future there is a large disaster, do you personally feel prepared?

Survey Results: 54% of the respondents answered “yes”, they feel prepared; and 42% answered “no”, they do not feel prepared.

Question 4: How are you prepared?

Survey Results: Of the 54% that feel prepared, they have on hand – flashlights, hygiene kits, contact phone numbers, and some have canned foods and water. Of the 42% that do not feel prepared, they have on hand – canned food, contact phone numbers, hygiene kits, and some have flashlights and water. A large portion of residents shared they do not have emergency funds.

Question 5: Are you interested in disaster preparedness education?

Survey Results: Of the surveyed residents, 50% stated they did not want additional information on disaster preparedness. However, the other 50% that would like the education – 31% prefers the education via a newspaper article, and 24% prefers education via brochure.

Another interesting relationship we found with plan awareness versus disaster preparedness: 38% of the respondents who were aware of the evacuation plan felt prepared for a disaster; however, 26% of residents who are aware of the evacuation plan, do not feel prepared for a disaster.



This community survey suggests that disaster preparedness education would be beneficial to the residents of Middletown. Though a good portion of the population seem to be prepared with flashlights, hygiene kits, canned foods and contact phone numbers, the importance of further preparation in the knowledge of “what do I do for my family and neighbors” in the event of a serious tragedy is evident in the survey results. As each person in the community is prepared and is well informed in what he/she can do, the more successful your outcome will be personally and socially.

Information and education such as “how can I have clean usable water for drinking, cooking, and bathing for my family while surviving an emergency”; “is saving $3.00 per person per week for emergency fund use reasonable”; “what types of canned good items are essential for survival for the needs of nutrition”; “will community emergency personnel be available for guidance and transportation needs”; and “how can I contribute to my family and my community for a successful outcome in an emergency”. These types of questions lead each of us to a level of accountability within an emergency.

The answers to the above stated questions can provide the education and resources necessary for your family and friends’ survival in a community disaster. Your Middletown officials and organizations are well equipped with appropriate and helpful educational tools in the form of brochures, yearly mailed flyers, telephone book listed emergency pages, and an excellent community website. We would suggest calling the Mayor’s office and/or the American Red Cross in Middletown to request these materials, and/or conduct an annual disaster preparedness seminar in order to reinforce the education needed for the unexpected.

In conclusion, as community conscience registered nurses, we would encourage each resident to seek out continued up-to-date emergent planning so in the unexpected event of a disaster, your community will be better prepared for survival. We thank each of you again for your support of PSU and the nursing program; we thank each of you for your participation in our survey; and thank you to the Mayor and officials of Middletown for their continued work in disaster preparedness for the community.


PSU RN-to-BSN students: Judy Nipple, RN; Gina Recce, RN; Cookie Schultz, RN; Ayla Clevenger, RN