Testing the multi-agency response to a possible pandemic was the scenario enacted during an Emergo Train System exercise at Tauranga Hospital.
The training exercise was led by Toi Te Ora Public Health and, as well as members of the Tauranga Hospital team, included representatives from St John's Ambulance, New Zealand Police, the Airport Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Customs and the Ministry of Health.
The exercise, held on Tuesday, involved the fictitious scenario where, at a time when the World Health Organisation is warning of a new influenza strain overseas, an international flight is diverted to land at Tauranga Airport with unwell passengers on board. Those passengers were suspected of being infected with the illness and the exercise revolved around each agency's response to that situation.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Jim Miller led the public health response.
“The real-time approach and realistic scenario allowed us all to take part, and importantly work with colleagues from other agencies,” he says.
“Once the fictional incident was assessed, infected people were transported for treatment, and their contacts placed in quarantine, with all of the agencies playing their roles. Whilst there are always improvements in our planning to be identified, the exercise did inspire confidence in our preparedness locally.”
Bay of Plenty District Health Board Emergency Planning Coordinator Jocelyn Stowers says the exercise was a great opportunity to review and test processes.
“I would like to thank everyone that took part. This type of multi-agency response exercise is really important on a number of levels; not least of which is the relationship building, as the people in the room today will largely be the same people responding in a real emergency.
“From a BOPDHB perspective this was about processes, resources and policies and making sure they are all in place in the case of an emergency, in this scenario a potential pandemic. The results of today's exercise will be fed into our response plans.
“It was a very positive exercise and I know from speaking to representatives from the other agencies involved how much was taken from the day.”
The Emergo Train System is used for training and evaluation of functions throughout an organisation response and is facilitated by the New Zealand ETS Educator Faculty.