It isn’t a matter of if we will ever have mass casualties — it’s a matter of when. So on April 17, St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) will participate in a YVR exercise involving a mock plane crash and more than 24 other organizations.
At SPH, we aim to test four major aspects of our Code Orange (mass casualties) plan:
Health Incident Command System (HICS) team — For all major emergencies that may require partial or full activation of our Code Orange Plan, initial decision making will be executed by the Leader On Call (LOC) through consultation with the HICS team. The HICS team supports the LOC to assess imminent risks and decide how to respond to events that potentially impact services. We’ll test the activation of this team at SPH.
Patient tracking — Past events have demonstrated the need to compile a central list of all patients connected to one event, regardless of the hospital delivering care. This exercise will be testing and evaluating a newly developed protocol to gather this information while supporting casualty and protecting patient confidentiality. VGH will be the coordination point for this information.
SPH Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) — SPH relies on the SPH EOC to support emergency responses. During the exercise we’ll practice EOC activation, action planning, site communications support, site logistics support and communications between other participating hospital EOCs. We’ll also be trialing new emergency management forms and hospital unit status reports.
Family Information and Support Centre (FISC) — During disasters, people flock to hospitals in search of information, support, and/or reunification with family or friends. In fact, these “psychosocial casualties” may outnumber the physically injured by as much as four to one.
PHC is one of the first hospitals in Canada to formalize a plan to support this kind of surge and help reunite loved ones. During the mock disaster on April 17th, PHC’s Psychosocial (PS) Team will be activated and will establish, for the time ever, a Family Information and Support Centre (FISC). We will have a number of volunteer “distraught family and friends” pretending to look for their loved ones.
This is an incredible opportunity to validate plans and identify areas for improvement.