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Hospital tests emergency response to major incident

14 July 2010

Members of the public who have to go to the hospital on Saturday 17 July are being advised that a major incident exercise will be taking place on that day. 

During the exercise the hospital and the surrounding area, in particular the emergency department, are likely to be busy, as people acting as casualties are dealt with and treated. Islanders are being reassured that the hospital will operate as normal, and the emergency department will still be running and fully staffed if anyone requires emergency treatment. It is anticipated that the exercise will start at around 8am on Saturday and will finish by midday.

"We would stress that this exercise, which is essential to test how we respond to a major emergency such as a plane crash, will not affect the normal running of the hospital," said managing director Andrew McLaughlin. "Emergency care will be available as normal, and will always be our first priority."

"We want everyone to be aware of the exercise so they are not alarmed if they need to come to the hospital, or drive past it, and see it is very busy," added Mr McLaughlin. "It will only be for a period of a few hours, which is enough time to identify both the strengths and weaknesses of our emergency plan. After the exercise, we can then look at what did not work so well, and consider how we can improve it in the future."

The exercise, called Exercise North, follows on from a major emergency exercise called Exercise Front, which took place in January 2010. This tested many States departments using a scenario of a plane crash, with casualties being taken from the airport as if they would be treated. The exercise on Saturday picks up with the next part of the scenario, with casualties being taken to the emergency department for treatment.

Hospital staff will treat people swiftly, operating a triage system to ensure that people requiring the most urgent treatment are seen first. Decisions will also be made about which patients, in a real life emergency, would need to go to the UK for treatment, and which, if appropriate, could be treated at a different location other than the hospital.

The Island’s emergency planning officer, Michael Long, who is co-ordinating the exercise added "Major incidents might be rare, but it is essential to be prepared for them, and this is a good opportunity to link into the exercise which took place earlier in the year. It is essential that all States of Jersey departments perform major incident exercises regularly, and we feel that this is a great learning opportunity."

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