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Right Arrow Hospital tests its Emergency Plans
20 October 2006 at 15:26

On Friday 6th October staff from Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust were joined by colleagues from the Ambulance service to take part in an Emergency planning exercise.

This was a “live exercise” run in the Learning Resource Centre at Ormskirk and the intention was to use actual staffing levels, bed occupancy and A&E activity on the day to see if we could cope. The exercise was facilitated by the ‘Emergo’ team who are a group of emergency planning specialists from the Coventry Centre for Disaster Management.
The exercise itself began as a real major incident would, with an emergency call to the A&E department. The exercise simulated a multiple vehicle road traffic accident involving up to 30 casualties. In accordance with the plan and using the Trusts call out procedure the On Call managers set up a control team and all relevant departments including A&E, X-ray, Theatres and Medical Records were put on alert.
As the virtual casualties arrived they were triaged and treated as if they were real patients and actual timings were applied. Additional incidents provided a further 23 casulties throughout the day, all of which had to be dealt with on top of the normal hospital activity for the day.
A variety of obstructions were put into the scenario by the Emergo team as the exercise progressed, including an overturned HGV wagon delivering oxygen to the hospital, creating a 500 yard exclusion zone around the site and of course limiting the available oxygen for patients. This tested the flexibilty of the Major Incident Plan and the resourcefullness of the staff.
The exercise involved a total of 70 people inluding the Trusts Medical Director, Senior Managers and staff from all relevant departments and was observed by one of the Trusts non ececutive directors, managers from other Trusts, local Primary Care Trusts and members of the Health Protection Agency.
All participants were congratulated on a very successful exercise by the Emergo team at a de-briefing. Richard McCarthy the On Call Manager for the day said “I was a little nervous beforehand because I didn’t know what the scenario would be or what to expect. But when the call came in everyone just got stuck into carrying out their part of the plan and there was a great team spirit. Obviously we hope that we never have to use the plan but if we do then I think everyone who took part now feels much more prepared and our local residents can be confident that our Major Incident Plan works.”
Clare Vattev, Nurse Controller for the exercise, echoed Richards feelings and added “Although we all knew it was an exercise and there were no real patients involved, everyone took it extremely seriously and worked very hard to make sure that the best possible care was given to all the ‘casualties’ even though they were only little cardboard cutouts”.
The results of the exercise and feedback from participants will be studied in full to determine what changes and additions might be made to the Major Incident Plan in order to make further improvements.
Many thanks go to all those who took part.

The picture shows some of the emergency team deciding which wards have room for some ‘patients’

Issued by Matthew King, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

Enquiries to: Matthew King Tel: 01704 704714