HSE emergency service staff deal with simulated mass casualty situation in Ballinasloe

Almost 50 local emergency service staff took part in a major emergency exercise organised by the national ambulance service in Ballinasloe recently.

They were joined by more than 30 volunteers in the response which is required training for trainee paramedics.

The volunteers from the Civil Defence, the Order of Malta, Red Cross and the Scouting Association of Ireland took on roles of participants in the simulated incident.

The exercise was also an opportunity for their trained responders to act as transporting ambulances which would happen in a real-life major emergency.

Also involved were off-duty paramedics, advanced paramedics, emergency medical controllers and ambulance officers together with the Galway County Council fire service, An Garda Síochána and the Irish Coast Guard.

The exercise involved dealing with a mass casualty situation whereby a tractor towing a float in a parade goes out of control and injures 106 people. The simulated incident also involved the tractor hitting a 25m high gantry where a TV crew were filming resulting in a rescue by the civil defence heights recue team.

Vincent O’Connor, the training and development officer with the HSE West ambulance service said the exercise was a tremendous success.

“We measure success on our ability to respond and our capability to do the most for the most. We successfully triaged, treated and removed 106 patients from the accident scene in 100 minutes. The success was due to the commitment of all the volunteers on scene and the support of their relative organisations.

“We are very grateful for the co-operation of our partner agencies during the exercise - An Garda Síochána, Galway County Council Fire Service and the Irish Coast Guard which provided a rescue helicopter and crew - along with all the volunteers whose involvement was critical to make the exercise as realistic as possible.”

He singled out Tom Connaughton, one of the HSE’s advanced paramedics, for special mention.

“Credit for the whole exercise must go to him. He is responsible for creating and implementing mass casualty exercises for each paramedic class at the National Ambulance Service College West in Ballinasloe. He is very inventive and his projects test the student aramedics to the max!”


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