WHO supports simulation exercise to test health crisis preparedness in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

WHO/Margarita Spasenovska

A simulation exercise to test the preparedness of a hospital in the region of Ohrid, as well as of the Emergency Medical Services was held on 2 December 2015. Health and emergency workers responded to a minibus carrying schoolchildren involved in a simulated traffic accident and ensuing fire. This was the seventh test organized by WHO in close cooperation with health authorities in the country to strengthen the health system's capacity to plan for and respond to crisis situations.

The city of Ohrid is a well-known tourist centre in the country. An increased number of traffic accidents are registered in this region, especially during the summer tourist period. Therefore, testing Ohrid Hospital's emergency preparedness plan is important.

The simulation also tested Ohrid Hospital's ability to communicate and coordinate with other institutions responsible for health preparedness in times of crisis, especially the Emergency Medical Services, the Crisis Management Centre and the Red Cross. The exercise helped refresh the knowledge of the Emergency Medical Services teams and improve their skills in coping with situations involving a high number of injured patients.

The exercise was organized in cooperation with the Crisis Management Centre, the Directorate for Protection and Rescue, fire-rescue units, National Public Health Institute, Health House Ohrid and the Ministry of Interior (city police forces).

Preparation

A series of preparatory meetings gave the participants an overview of the simulation 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 Emergency Medical Services staff.

Outcome

The exercise called for strong and coordinated multisectoral cooperation in the public health response to emergencies, in accordance with the principles of the WHO European policy framework Health 2020. It revealed the presence of strong command leadership, committed and qualified staff, and effective management of incoming patients.