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Preparing to care for critically injured children in an emergency

BC Children’s Hospital held an emergency exercise for a Code Orange scenario earlier this month to ensure the Emergency Department and other areas of the hospital could respond to a mass casualty or disaster incident.
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​As part of the exercise, they were joined by paramedics from BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and staff from Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC), to test their response in caring for 42 casualties, with child actors standing in for injured children and youth.  

For Carmella Silvestri, a member of the Nursing Resource Team at BC Children’s who took on the role of triage unit lead during the exercise, these large scale scenarios allow for staff to step out of their daily comforts and experience different aspects of their role. 

“This was my first time doing external triage, which is a very different role than what I’m used to as a bedside nurse,” said Silvestri. “We’re very fortunate that an event like this has not happened in this building, but if it does we are better prepared for it thanks to the hands-on approach and lessons in working together as part of an exercise of this magnitude.”

Being prepared for emergencies gives Carmella and hospital staff the opportunity for hands-on disaster training and practice working collaboratively through challenges that emerge in treating large numbers of patients in a short time. 

Through Code Orange exercises like this, HEMBC can gather valuable feedback on current response plans and make any adjustments and improvements identified by participants.

“Practice is key to becoming proficient in a new skill or behaviour. This same concept applies to emergency management procedures—we need practice to effectively respond to real events,” added Alexandra Sojo, manager, Lower Mainland and Vancouver Acute, HEMBC. “It was a day of practising—which we call exercising in emergency management lingo—our response. As a result, several collaborating units and departments from across BC Children’s and our partner programs are better prepared to work together in the event of an incident of this scale.”

How you can stay prepared

On Twitter? Follow us @BCHealthEM for emergency management tips and resources that you can share with your network. Or, for more information about HEMBC, visit:

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