Waleed Alabsi recommends a few pointers that can help in managing mass casualty incidents.
1. Begin incident command early:
Establishing an incident command and a Mobile Emergency Room on the scene as soon as an incident happens is the best practice. Incident command begins with the arrival of the first units identifying the situation and the declaration of an incident commander. This is followed by a scene assessment and triage.
Failure to get the incident command early on can result in poor communication, incomplete assessment of the entire situation, and poor or inadequate planning of resources.
2. Perform a scene survey:
For the safety of the health providers, care of the victims, and success of the incident action plan a quick and thorough survey of the scene is critical.
Waleed Alabsi recommends that units that arrive early must determine what happened and how and make sure that any safety concerns are addressed. A scene survey can involve getting a view of the scene from all angles by physically walking around the incident or getting reports from others who may have had a better look at the scene.
3. Make the call for more resources early enough:
Once the incident command is established and the details of the scene are known, it’s now time to make a call for help.
4. Have identification to delineate your role:
Emergency providers should be identified on the scene especially by the incident commander. Wear identification that identifies you whether it’s a brightly colored vest, ball cap, or glow stick taped to your shoulder. Visual identification reduces the time taken by someone who needs to search the scene for an incident commander. It can be frustrating to show up on a scene ready to help and having to look for the person in charge.
5. Conduct patient triage and tagging:
An effective triage method according to Waleed Alabsi should be simple and quick when sorting out the patients that require the most help. The initial stage of triage is supposed to give an idea of the number of patients, their conditions, and the resources required. An effective triage sweep gives important information that places the incident commander in control of the situation.
The use of triage tags documents the initial triage levels and enables other responders to identify the patients and move them to where they will receive appropriate treatment.
6. Utilize checklists and reminder cards:
to remember the steps that are needed when faced with a mass casualty incident, checklists and reminder cards provide a quick and effective way to remain on task, be decisive and make sure that no necessary step is forgotten.
7. Keep radio traffic clear, brief, and necessary:
During mass casualty situations, communication is one of the biggest breakdowns. To address this, responders can try as much as possible to minimize the amount of radio traffic contributed. Before pressing the “talk” button, thoroughly consider what you are going to transmit and make sure that it is important and necessary. If the information you intend on passing does not help someone else do their job better, it may not need to consume the limited airtime.
8. Notify hospitals of the casualties and keep them updated:
Waleed Alabsi advises hospitals and Mobile Emergency Room should be prepared to receive patients that are being transported and those that are walking in for treatment. A solid communication link must be established with the base hospital, medical coordination center, or any other resource directing keeping them updated for the duration of the event.
9. Preserve the vehicle ingress and egress routes:
Be cautious of where you park when arriving at the scene. Routes used to move ambulances and emergency response vehicles must be kept clear.
10. Keep a track of the patients transported from the scene:
According to Waleed Alabsi, the process of identifying victims and reuniting them with loved ones is an important step that hospitals struggle with after a disaster. This is compounded further when minors are involved.