Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital conducted a Mass Simulation earthquake drill on 21 September, the first of its kind involving the whole hospital. The main objective was to test its Contingency plan for Emergencies and Disasters and also to stimulate and create awareness amongst hospital staff.
The other objectives were to improve the incident command system of the hospital, to have a proper arrangement of triage mechanism, to manage RGYB areas, roles and responsibilities of the responders, evacuation plan, coordination and communication, logistic management, finance management and networking.
For the drill, they made an assumption of an earthquake with 7.6 magnitude and the drill consisted of 100 simulators who are all student of RIHS. Of 100 simulators, they identified 49 as victims and 51 as visitors in the hospital after the disaster. They had 10 VIPs and 30 observers.
They identified four colors to indicate different situation of the patients: Red indicating serious, Green indicating normal with injuries, Yellow indicating patient who can move around with injuries and Black indicating death. During the drill JDWNRH identified 5 black, 20 green, 13 yellow and 8 red.
Director of JDWNRH, Tshering Yangden said the drill will be part of an annual event and advocacy or awareness. As a hospital, she said that, they should be ever ready with any kind of emergencies or disasters.
She said some challenges with the recent drill was in terms of communication whereby the Motorola handsets, which were used for communication within the JDWNRH staff on other days and also during the mock drill was clogged due to many users at the same time. “Therefore, it had been difficult to report and relay information”, she added.
The other challenges were crowd control as there was a big crowd and it was difficult for the security service to manage and coordination amongst the different departments also needed improvement.
Medical Superintendent of JDWNRH, Gosar Pemba, said the Disaster management in the hospital is mainly about the patient who will be brought in after any disaster. “It is the escalation of daily emergency management and if we do a good management of our daily emergency, when the number of patient increase we can manage it well,” he said. “Therefore practice is needed to know who is assigned with what responsibility otherwise, if we call 100 people in any emergencies, it won’t help. If such practice is put into practice from now, everything will go well in future.”
Hari Kumar, regional co-ordinator (South Asia) of GeoHazards International, said the whole objective of the drill was to learn and be prepared for any future disaster. “With the drill they have done this time, they will sit and discuss on how to make an improvement in the next drill and that way they can be fully prepared for any emergencies,” he said.
It is not at all easy to get all the departments together, however, he said that the hospital has done a good job and the management has put in their effort to make it a success and to reach this level.
He also said that doing the drill in the hospital is not easy and without disturbing any of the patients but they achieved that during the mock drill. “In the next drill they will involve all the departments and do the drill once they are ready with their revised plan,” he said. “For today, only selected department took part in the drill.”
One of the observers of the mock drill said the hall was a bit congested, , the siren fluctuated, there was delay in identification of injured patients and lack of coordination between stakeholders. He also emphasized on efficient use of resources, pre-arrangement and on evacuation routes.
The Mass Simulation drill was conducted with financial support from ECHO and WHO and facilitated by Geo Hazard International (GHI) in collaboration with MoH under the Health Sector Preparedness Project.
JDWNRH has developed its Contingency plan for Emergencies and Disasters with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) Bhutan office under its Health Sector Emergency Preparedness Project (2016 -2018), with funding support from the Disaster Preparedness ECHO Program (DiPECHO).