When a major incident occurs it is comforting to know that the emergency services are prepared to deal with it. The Northern Health and Social Care Trust proactively plans and prepares for incidents that may result in a large numbers of casualties.
The Trust is actively involved and will liaise with other organisations and external agencies to ensure a multi-agency response to any major incident, working closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and local Borough Councils.
In previous years the Northern Trust has participated in a number of major incident exercises involving staff from Antrim and Causeway Hospitals and community support staff. These have included a large road traffic accident and a bomb incident; the Trust also took part in a large scale and much publicised exercise at the International Airport last year.
At a recent meeting of the multi-agency major incident planning team possible future scenarios were discussed. The Trust and each of the contributing agencies have major incident plans in place, but as Chair of the team, Dr Michael Mannion pointed out, it is important that these are tested regularly. He said,
“An essential part of the planning process is making sure that the major incident plan is up to the mark. We need to honestly examine the structures we have in place and the staff who support these and test them to see if they will deal with the eventualities a major incident can throw up.
“This is why we develop different scenarios to help update the plan; to keep it current and responsive to a range of situations.”
The meeting this month is one of a number scheduled during year that will ensure all of the agencies involved are working closely to deliver a high quality response to any situation. A major incident exercise will be developed and will take place later in the year. The scenario will not be revealed until the exercise is underway to help make the experience as realistic as possible.