Hospital preps for mass casualty incident

The radiation response team scanning a "casualty" for radioactive or contaminated substances in the lobby of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital during yesterday's event.
The radiation response team scanning a "casualty" for radioactive or contaminated substances in the lobby of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital during yesterday's event.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Rehearsal at Ng Teng Fong hospital ensures emergency preparedness

It was "chaos" at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) yesterday as multiple "casualties" were wheeled into the foyer of Tower B.

As the "injured" arrived in ambulances, doctors, nurses and emergency staff took each one through a decontamination process involving a series of showers and scans before treating them.

Fortunately, the scene was merely a full-dress rehearsal in preparation for the hospital's first mass casualty exercise to be held in the first half of next year.

This was the second of three full-dress rehearsals to progressively test the hospital's emergency preparedness. The first was held in September this year.

Mass casualty events include major transportation incidents, catastrophic civil disasters, chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear releases or attacks, and explosions.

Various hospital departments, such as emergency, intensive care, surgery and radiology as well as wards were activated in the exercise.

Said Mr Ng Kian Swan, chief operating officer of NTFGH and Jurong Community Hospital: "We need to be operationally ready for any mass casualty incidents.

PRACTICE NEEDED

The Jurong GRC Cert team has been working very hard in terms of sharing and training and (this event) provides a platform for the exercise. Because if you don't flex your muscles, you don't know when you can use them and how you can use them.

MADAM RAHAYU MAHZAM, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC.

"With each exercise, we will continue to build on areas for improvement and shore up our preparedness."

For the first time yesterday, Community Emergency Response Team (Cert) volunteers from the People's Association (PA) were also involved in the exercise for field exposure to a hospital mass casualty incident.

The 35 Cert volunteers are trained in psychological first aid and crowd management, and were given the opportunity to receive on-the-ground training and watch demonstrations by the hospital's medical social workers and security personnel.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources, as well as Madam Rahayu Mahzam, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC, were also present at the rehearsal.

Said Madam Rahayu: "The Jurong GRC Cert team has been working very hard in terms of sharing and training and (this event) provides a platform for the exercise. Because if you don't flex your muscles, you don't know when you can use them and how you can use them."

She added that after the exercise, the team will be looking at ways to effectively activate and deploy volunteers in the event of a real incident.

Dr Khor added: "You can never practise enough, you can never be over-prepared and over-exercised in such situations.

"This also raises awareness among the community to be prepared and see if we can get more people to come in and volunteer and train to be Cert members."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 05, 2017, with the headline 'Hospital preps for mass casualty incident'. Print Edition | Subscribe