Students and hospital staff train for mass casualty event at Vic General

Students and hospital staff train for mass casualty event at Vic General
A student in makeup participates in a code orange training day at Victoria General Hospital.

Dozens of staff and volunteer students performed a mock code orange situation at Victoria General Hospital on Friday in preparation for possible future real-life situations.

Forty high schools from the Greater Victoria area acted as casualties of a serious bus crash to help train hospital staff. Each student was dressed with make-up, bandages, fake blood, and assigned injuries and were brought in to imitate a mass casualty event.

“I think 12 of them are reds, which are critical care, [there are] a number that are yellows, which are kind of intermediate care – and then greens, which are walking wounded,” said Ryan Kuhn, director of Health Emergency BC for Island Health.

Otherwise known as a code orange, Island Health defines it as a mass casualty or disaster event that hospital staff can’t normally accommodate. Hospitals are required to train for scenarios like that at least once every four years.

“When we are walking through an exercise like this, we are trying to be as real as possible to simulate the emotions, the response, coping with family members, as well as the victims of an incident,” said Gillian Kozinka, executive director at Island Health.

A similar scenario played out on Vancouver Island in 2019 — the last time a code orange was implemented. A coach bus carrying 45 UVic students slipped into an embankment on Bamfield Road, killing two 18-year-olds. Just last week, improvements to the road had been completed, which includes guardrails.

“It’s a challenge,” said Kuhn.

Students were first triaged based on their injuries, then doctors and nurses made critical decisions on their next steps of care. Kuhn says the goal is to care for as many injured as possible in the shortest amount of time.

“You know, you feel like you want to perform and do your best, but through anything like this, nothing is perfect,” he said.

Many of the student volunteers are also planning to enter the medical field. Manarap Popli, a Grade 12 student, wants to be a doctor and believes this exercise is crucial for patient care.

“I want to be a doctor to help people, so if I know what other people are thinking, I can [do] my job better and I can act more responsibly,” said the student.


Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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