Preparation

Each year our department trains with intensity for mass casualty incidents.  We always perform the drills on week days during the day shift. We treat these drills as if they were the “real thing” and tax our operations to identify weaknesses in our process so we can make improvements for the next drill or, god forbid, a real-life incident. During our drills, our department initiates a mini command center in our ED in which both on-duty supervisors communicate with each other the equipment, supply and work force needs for the event. One supervisor is present in the patient care area of the ED, mainly the trauma bays, and the other is off-stage coordinating the needs as the frontline supervisor dictates. This enables our department to pull resources from patient-care areas that are less critical and consolidate our staff to cross cover multiple units if needed during the event. We communicate closely with our hospital incident command medical director, logistics, planning and operations chiefs.

 

After the events, we participate in the post-drill debrief to communicate what went well and areas that we identified as having weaknesses or gaps that could compromise operations in the event of a real disaster. With each drill, we flush out our areas of opportunity and add more oil to our machine. We walk away after each event feeling as if our machine is better-oiled than it was during the previous event.