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Emergency department tests response to major incident

22 July 2010

An emergency exercise held at the General Hospital on Saturday has given staff valuable training opportunities.

Staff at the hospital were reacting to a simulated plane crash at Jersey Airport, meaning that in a real life scenario, a number of survivors with varying degrees of injury would require urgent treatment. Staff at the hospital’s emergency department, which ran as normal during the exercise, had to assess volunteer patients with different injuries swiftly under a triage system, while at the same time keeping a specially set up command and control centre up to date with details of the casualties and where they could be placed in the hospital.
Emergency department consultant, Andrew Brett, said “This was an outstanding opportunity to look at the challenging reception phase of a major incident. We in the emergency department are very grateful to the volunteers and our partner organisations who put so much into the organisation of the exercise. We can now use the lessons that we have learnt to refine and update our contingency plans."
Staff from Jersey's Ambulance Service were integral to the planning of the exercise as well as the recruitment, coordination, makeup and transport of the volunteer patients from the scene to hospital.

Senior clinicians and managers acted as leaders, as they would in a normal situation, and the States of Jersey Police exercised their casualty bureau function. There was also a staged media presence.

The exercise, called Exercise North, followed on from a major emergency exercise called Exercise Front which took place earlier this year. This tested many States departments using a scenario of a plane crash, with casualties being taken from the airport as if they were to be treated. The exercise on Saturday picked up with the next part of the scenario, with casualties being taken to the hospital for treatment.

Commenting on the exercise, emergency planning officer Michael Long said "This was a realistic exercise which followed a large exercise held at Jersey Airport in January. It is of great importance that these 2 linked exercises have followed each other so quickly this year. Doing this means that we can look at both strengths and weaknesses of what happened during the exercise. While we all hope never to be involved in a major incident of any type, we have to be realistic, and exercise for the possibility."

The hospital’s managing director, Andrew McLaughlin, said "This was the first emergency exercise held at the hospital for a number of years. Staff gave their own time to make this exercise happen, and valuable lessons were learned as a result of this opportunity. Our next task is to hold a detailed debrief session so that we can get our major incident plan refreshed where needed. I would like to thank everyone involved, particularly the people who were not expected who came into work to be involved. Most importantly, the hospital, in particular the emergency department, ran as normal for the duration of the exercise. Jersey can be proud of the dedicated people who provide its emergency services."

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