Simulation strengthens emergency preparedness in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office in Skopje work closely with health authorities in the country to strengthen the health system’s preparedness to respond to crises.
An exercise to test the emergency preparedness of the clinical hospital in Bitola, the general hospital in Prilep and the emergency medical services (EMS) in both cities took place on 6 November. The hospital in Bitola is one of the key regional hospitals in the country, so testing its preparedness plan and communication and coordination with the nearest local hospital, located in Prilep, was important. The review team will use the results of the exercise in recommending improvements.
A series of preparatory meetings gave the participants an overview of the exercise and highlighted relevant information on expected casualties, trigger indicators for activating the emergency response plan, triage and patient traffic flow, and the responsibilities of hospital and EMS staff.
This simulation, the third such event organized as part of WHO country activities related to disaster preparedness and response, was an example of strong and coordinated multisectoral cooperation for public health preparedness. The scenario included simulation of a collision between a bus transporting children and a fuel lorry, with mass casualties and burns. Key stakeholders participated, including the Red Cross, Crisis Management Centre (CMC), fire–rescue units and the ministries for the interior and defence.
The exercise allowed officials to identify the strengths of the current hospital plan, including strong command leadership, committed and qualified staff and effective management of incoming patients. In addition, it exposed potential gaps in the system and identified potential problems in the current plan, which were outlined in detail in a technical feedback report. An analysis of potential problems led to recommendations for future exercises in other hospitals.
WHO and Ministry of Health officials will continue to work with national counterparts to further test and upgrade hospitals’ crisis-preparedness plans, to ensure that EMS and hospitals will be ready to meet increased service demands during a crisis.