Introduction: Hospitals are obliged to have agile and scalable response arrangements for managing natural and instigated disasters. While many hospitals have disaster plans, few exercise these plans or test their staff under realistic conditions. Moreover, despite evidence of many emergency simulation training scenarios, there is little empirical evidence that simulation activities enhance staff clinical responses or the organisational management systems that support disaster management. This study explores changes in perceived preparedness of multidisciplinary hospital-wide team members to manage mass-casualty incidents, as a result of an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental simulation exercise.
Methods: This is pretest-posttest study evaluating the effect of a mass casualty simulation on the change in participants’ self-assessed skills, knowledge and confidence in responding to a mass casualty incident. It was carried out at three public teaching hospitals in southeast Queensland, Australia. Three Emergo Training System (ETS) mass-casualty exercises were the basis for their research. Quasi-experimental pre- and post-simulation cohort surveys were administered to capture participants’ self-rated confidence, skill and process knowledge on a 5-point Likert scale. Changes were analysed using paired t-tests. Data was analysed anonymously. The post-exercise survey included free-text comments.
Results: A total of 232 individuals participated in one of the exercises, and of these 129 (55.6%) completed both the pre-exercise and post-exercise surveys. Statistically significant increases in self-assessed confidence, skills, and knowledge scores (p < .001) were identified. Three themes were evident from free-field comments: the importance of pre-briefing, communication throughout and the need for greater realism in the scenarios.
Conclusions: This study supports the use of simulation using ETS as one way to improve staff’s self-efficacy and perceived preparedness, through increasing self-assessed knowledge, confidence and skills to manage a mass casualty incident at their health facility.
Tasman Medical Journal 2021; 3(4): 112-119