When I think about my favourite television shows over the years there has always been a medical drama mixed in there. From Marcus Welby, MD (I know I’m dating myself), St. Elsewhere, ER and Grey’s Anatomy to the Good Doctor, there is something compelling that brings viewers back week after week. Some of the appeal is well-loved characters and their relationships; some of what keeps us glued to the channel are the dramas and emergency situations those characters face on a regular basis. As I watch, I find myself thinking, “I hope nothing like that ever happens here.”
Fortunately, the real world is a bit different from the world you see on television. That being said, we need to be prepared at all times to respond to a disaster situation that can overwhelm our hospital and community. The recent tragedies in Toronto on Yonge St. and the Danforth remind us of of the need to respond in a coordinated, timely and supportive way. The hospitals who did so at the time are acknowledged for their quick and well managed actions.
The best way to be prepared is to practice. In school I remember fire drills that seemed to come on the chilliest days. In the hospital, we also regularly hold drills to make sure that we know what to do. To prepare for larger scale potential disasters we often partner with the municipality and emergency responders such as fire, ambulance and police. I had the privilege of serving as an observer during our most recent mock disaster. This was a mock “code orange” which simulated a significant external event that led to a number of patients arriving in the Emergency Department in need of treatment at the same time. This requires the physicians and staff to ensure they have the resources and space to treat incoming patients, supportive services for family members and good communications to keep everyone informed of the situation.
What I observed during that exercise filled me with awe and pride. From the moment that I heard the lead physician say “Residents, gown and glove” it was like watching a well orchestrated ballet. Everyone knew what to do and where to go. Mock patients arrived by ambulance with full make-up playing their Academy Award winning roles. Meanwhile, all of the other areas of the hospital were conducting their own paper exercises and documenting what they would do if this were a real situation. Significant time also went into debriefing after the event so that we learn from this experience. We can always improve. My thanks goes out to all partners who assist us in these significant learning opportunities.
So, with all of this attention at the hospital level, it made me think about our own personal preparedness at home. I’ll admit we check the smoke detectors at our house and have emergency kits in our cars, and that’s about it. I’m on a mission to do better and found the following website that gives excellent tips on planning ahead (click here for website). I’m going to spend some time next weekend making sure that our family is prepared.
Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency saves lives. Join me in making this a safer community by taking action at your home or workplace too. Safety is part of a healthy community and part of CKHA’s vision: Together, growing a healthier community.