'We have to be prepared for it': Montreal hospitals practice disaster simulation
Trauma doctors examine a teenage girl with a bloody headwound. The scenario: she was injured after a driver mowed down pedestrians in the Old Port, then started shooting people.
“What is the history?” asks one staffer at the Montreal Children’s Hospital emergency room.
“This was a 15-year-old who got ejected from a car,” replies another.
Luckily in this case, the girl is an actress and the story of how she was injured is made up. But the scenario has happened in other cities around the world and could happen here.
The hospitals call the scenario a Code Orange, an emergency code which represents a catastrophic event or emergency with multiple victims — like a plane crash or a building collapse.
“This is the kind of thing we hope we never see but we have to be prepared for it,” said Dr. Elene Khalik, a pediatric emergency specialist and the director of education for the MUHC.
“So it’s a very big challenge to keep healthcare workers proficient and confident to respond in these type of situations and simulations are one of the ways to do it.”
Multiple hospitals across the island participated in the simulation exercise. Sacré Coeur Hospital also had actors as patients. Other hospitals, including the Montreal General and the Royal Victoria, held training exercises.
This simulation had 20 victims — including mannequins and real people — needing mass blood transfusions.
WATCH BELOW: Code orange simulation
Medical staff knew few details in advance. The biggest challenge for medical teams is dealing with a mass volume of casualties needing treatment all at once.
“It’s not about medical experience,” said Dr. Hussein Wissanji, a pediatric fellow at the Children’s. “People know what they need to do and they can do it well, it’s just doing it together when there is so much stress on resources.”
It was the third time the Montreal Children’s took part in a Code Orange exercise. The hospital will spend months studying this simulation, to learn how to improve.
“I think we have gotten much better with time,” said Dr. Ilana Bank, head of simulation for the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
“The first time was a shock no one knew what was going on but now as we get more and more prepared people are more and more ready to manage a code orange.”
Medical staff say they hope they will never have to face this actual scenario. But given events like this have happened in other cities, they say if it does happen in Montreal, they will be ready.