HSE staff from community, mental health and disability services and Mayo General Hospital got together recently to take part in a major emergency exercise based on the scenario of a fire at a night club in Castlebar.
The tabletop exercise was designed to test the HSE’s response to a major incident in Co Mayo, and to allow the hospital and Mayo PCCC staff an opportunity to gain an understanding of each other’s roles in the event of a major emergency. The exercise was also attended by HSE ambulance and communications staff who acted in an advisory role.
The purpose of the exercise was to facilitate a learning environment in which the HSE’s response agencies could come together, face to face, to understand and talk through an integrated response to a specific emergency situation. The tabletop exercise provided an ideal environment for learning, discussing, and identifying issues that may not be as obvious when participants are physically separated as they are during other exercises.
Paschal Diviney of the HSE’s Regional Emergency Management Office, who organised the exercise commented: “This exercise provided a good opportunity to compare what participants actually expect to do and how they plan to do it with what is written in the local emergency plan, and it also highlighted the changes that may need to be made to update the existing emergency plan.”
The exercise, which was held at Mayo General Hospital, began with participants being told of a simulated event which in this case involved a fire at a local night club, resulting in multiple fatalities and casualties. The HSE staff then responded to a set of problems related to the emergency scenario that had been outlined to them.
Frank Murphy, Mayo Integrated Services Manager, HSE West, commented: “The exercise allowed our staff from different disciplines within the hospital and Mayo PCCC to practise the performance of duties, tasks, and operations very similar to the way they would be performed in a real emergency. The exercise also served to test and evaluate our emergency operation plan, which will prove very useful for future exercises and in the event of a real emergency situation in Co Mayo.”