Can a fridge magnet bleed? – adventures in mass casualty incident/novel health based exercises

A Very Bad Thing (VBT) has happened. Staff in the Emergency Department (and elsewhere in the hospital) are expected to respond and manage the VBT as they were trained and as detailed in their plans. Except these days it is difficult to find the time to train staff and anyway the plans can be disconnected from the reality of the ED environment.
A fundamental tenet of all emergency management arrangements is the requirement to exercise plans, procedures and/or personnel to ensure that organisations and individuals are capable of responding to significant incidents.

Over the past 12 years Don Garlick has been responsible for developing and delivering exercises to test the response of staff and processes at a large regional hospital in Victoria. This presentation will explore the successes, pitfalls and failures of actual emergency management exercises, providing delegates with practical insights into:

  • Developing ‘normal business’ fire training to incorporate low frequency-high consequence emergencies
  • Delivering five hospital based large Mass Casualty Incident exercises
  • Using performance indicators to monitor performance across time and fuel improvements
  • The rewards of collaborating with emergency services and emergency management agencies at a local and regional level
  • Finding opportunities to provide hospital staff with unique health based exercises such as decontamination and VMAT deployment

Don Garlick is the Manager: Emergency Management for Ballarat Health Services. In this role Don is responsible for the planning, training, response and recovery arrangements for BHS; a large regional, multi-campus service with over 4000 employees and over 500 patient/residential beds. Don is part of the Victorian state-wide health based emergency management exercise and training faculty, represents CENA on the FEMO program, and is involved in local, regional and state-wide emergency management committees.
Don holds a Masters in Emergency Management (Distinction), Advanced Diplomas of Public Safety & Business Management, Graduate Diploma of Critical Care and Cert IV’s in Fire Technology, Training & Assessment, Work Health & Safety, Frontline Management and a Cert II in Firefighting Operations.
He continues to work part time as an ANUM at the Ballarat Base Hospital Emergency Department.
In his spare time, he is a 30-year veteran CFA volunteer firefighter in a busy urban brigade and because he was a bit bored, recently joined the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corp as a Reserve Nursing Officer.