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NHS Trust runs mass casualty incident test

THE Army Medical Services Training Centre (AMSTC), part of the Army’s 2nd Medical Brigade, has supported York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in delivering a live training exercise to test the Trust’s Major Incident Response Plans.

The event, called LIVEX18, was an immersive simulation exercise based in AMSTC’s hospital trainer, which is used to train the military’s medical response to major incident and conflict situations - ranging from the response to the Ebola epidemic to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This partnership between the Trust and the Army offered a unique opportunity to test the Trust’s reaction to a mass casualty scenario, within a full-scale reconstruction of the emergency departments and supporting areas.

Over 400 participants, including doctors, nurses, managers, allied health professionals, porters and security staff took part in the exercise - giving both Scarborough and York’s hospital teams the opportunity to test their response in the first and largest exercise of its kind.  Both exercises ran over seven hours with a total of 184 simulated patients treated.  Patients were processed as they would be in a real life incident, including moving patients through the x-ray and scanning departments, and issuing approximately 200 simulated units of blood and blood products to treat patients.

Dr Phil Dickinson, Consultant Anaesthetist at Scarborough Hospital, Network Lead Clinician for Major Trauma, and the exercise clinical director, explained:  “It is vital that the NHS plans for, and responds to, a wide range of incidents and emergencies that could affect health or patient care.  This means we need to be ready to deal with a major incident whenever it happens - whether it’s a flood, fire, bomb blast or bus crash.  In order to cope in these circumstances when we’re under intense pressure, it’s vital that we exercise our plans to ensure we can carry on providing safe, high-quality care to all our patients.

“Our emergency departments in York and Scarborough are designated as trauma units and deal with serious injuries every day, but this exercise was an opportunity for them to practice dealing with multiple, severely injured people coming to hospital on mass.  It meant staff could test their skills in a high pressure scenario, getting a real feel for what it would be like - but in a safe, simulated environment.”

Mark Hindmarsh, Head of Strategy and lead for emergency planning for the Trust added: “Training and exercising our key frontline staff so that they have experience of working in this uniquely challenging situation, and are familiar with how to put into practice the Trust Incident Response Plan, is an important part of being prepared.”

Live actors with Hollywood-standard make up, simulation bodies, mannequins, explosives and other effects were used to create as realistic an environment as possible, allowing staff to develop their skills in a realistic mass-casualty scenario.  Injuries ranged from head traumas, internal bleeding, loss of limb, massive blood loss and burns.  Doctors and nurses from the emergency department had to 'treat' the casualties as they would in real life, transferring patients to theatres for surgery as needed.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Chadwick, AMSTC’s Chief Instructor said: “This was an opportunity for the NHS and the Army to showcase our strong bonds and shared values.  Our soldiers serve to protect the nation and inspire others, so it has been a privilege to use our world class training and facilities to help promote the skills of the Trust’s clinical teams and to further boost public confidence in the ability of local health services to respond to today’s threats and challenges.”

Phil added: “Staff have told me how valuable they found the exercise and how it helped them to apply and develop their knowledge.  We already have plans in place to share the learning from this event across the wider NHS.”

10 July 2018

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"It is vital that the NHS plans for, and responds to, a wide range of incidents and emergencies that could affect health or patient care.  This means we need to be ready to deal with a major incident whenever it happens - whether it’s a flood, fire, bomb blast or bus crash."

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