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March 19, 2021

Hospitals, Regional Partners Test Emergency Response Plans for Burn Patients in Tabletop Exercise

Emergency Response PlansOn Feb. 10, 52 people representing 21 organizations in Northeast Ohio gathered virtually to test their emergency response plans for a mass casualty event resulting in a large number of burn victims. Participants included fire departments, emergency medical services, emergency management agencies, public health and hospitals. 

The exercise was a test of the Burn Surge Annex, which is a new addition to the regional healthcare coalition response plans, and it fulfilled a requirement of the federal hospital preparedness program grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

The test was conducted as a tabletop exercise, which is a discussion-based event where participants gather and talk through their agency roles and actions according to their emergency response plans utilizing a fictitious scenario. This exercise format allows participants to walk through an incident with other responding organizations, sharing with each other their plans, capabilities and lessons learned. It’s an invaluable opportunity for partner organizations to improve coordination and validate response plans.

About the Exercise
The scenario for the exercise was a series of explosions in a rural Northeast Ohio community with a small critical access hospital being the closest to the scene. The fictitious explosions resulted in 300 victims with various traumatic and burn injuries that quickly overwhelmed the community.

The Center’s emergency preparedness team – Beth Gatlin, Andrea Bishop and Tracy Pate – coordinated the planning, hosted the exercise, developed the evaluation materials, and will be updating the plan based on the experience. The Center is grateful for the participation and support from partner organizations, who recognize the value and need for planning to ensure the community is prepared to respond to a real-life event.
During the exercise, participants were able to determine opportunities for improving coordination through four objectives, which were to discuss and identify:
  1. Partner roles, responsibilities and capabilities during an event causing a surge in the number of burn patients.
  2. The activation process for the Burn Surge Annex.
  3. The essential elements of information and the process for information sharing among regional partners.
  4. The process for receiving, managing and transferring burn patients from the scene and from hospitals to the appropriate facilities.
About the Burn Surge Annex
The Burn Surge Annex is a supplement to the regional healthcare coalition response plans. It addresses the specific needs of burn injuries and provides guidance to support a burn mass casualty incident during which the number and severity of burn patients exceeds the capability of individual facilities. 

The Burn Surge Annex is one of five additional components of these plans that are being required by ASPR. Last year, the coalition developed and tested a pediatric annex; over the next three years they will develop plans for infectious disease, chemical and radiological incidents. Additional opportunities to test burn response will also be provided in the future.

For more on The Center’s emergency preparedness work, contact us.