Small-Scale High-Fidelity Simulation for Mass Casualty Incident Readiness
This content can be used for trauma centers, emergency medicine residency programs, and emergency nursing.
Mass casualty incidents (MCI) are becoming increasingly common and are occurring in locations that have not experienced them previously which adds to the challenge of readiness for emergency departments (EDs). Sporadic occurrences and limited resources add to the complexity of preparing for such an event. In advance of a large gathering in our metropolitan area, we developed and conducted a simulation to better prepare not only our residents, but our MCI planning committee, registered nurses (RNs) and emergency room technicians (ERTs) for an MCI.
Emergency medicine is at the forefront of any hospital’s response to an MCI. These events stretch the resources and force EDs to function differently than usual.1 Responding effectively is crucial to minimizing the morbidity and mortality of our patients while maximizing use of available resources. We can improve our level-headedness, efficiency, and department and hospital-level planning through simulation. This has particular implications for residency training with effects on education, preparedness, and wellness.
The learners will (1) recognize state of mass casualty exercise as evidenced by verbalization or triaging by START (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment) criteria, (2) triage several patients, including critically ill or peri-arrest acuities, according to START criteria, (3) recognize the need to limit care based on available resources, as evidenced by verbal orders or communication of priorities to team, and (4) limit emergency resuscitation, given limited resources, by only providing treatments and employing diagnostics that do not deplete limited time, staffing, and space inappropriately.
A small-scale, high-fidelity simulation was created to replicate the pace and acuity of patients presenting in an MCI. Three critically injured patients with multiple gunshot wounds, represented by high-fidelity manikins with moulaged wounds, were presented over a 6-minute span. The team was allowed 10 minutes total to conduct life-saving measures, targeted evaluation, and disposition of the patients. The simulation was then adapted for use in a second institution’s simulation center to replicate and validate the objectives given a different system.
The learners were immediately verbally debriefed and feedback of the simulation, fidelity and appropriateness of the experience solicited. Unprompted, several of the learners volunteered that the efficacy of the experience was highly educational and valuable. Anonymized digital feedback was requested in the form of an online survey and was generally positive.
The educational content was created by experts in simulation medicine and validated by content experts in the fields of Emergency Medicine, Trauma Surgery and Emergency Nursing.
After the scenario ended, the learners were taken to a second room for debriefing by a trauma surgeon, an emergency medicine attending, and the nurse trauma educator. The actors were able to participate as secondary learners and were rotated out of simulation duties to participate in the debriefing. After this twenty-minute educational debrief, the learners were brought back to the simulation bay and were given a similar scenario. After this iteration, the team debriefed a second time. This hour schedule of cases and debrief was repeated a total of four times with a total of twelve individual learners. Suggestions and verbal feedback were noted for incorporation into appropriate committees or hospital departments. No formal assessment was done and inclusion was strictly on a voluntary basis. An evaluation of the session (on a Likert scale of 1-5) had six respondents which showed an average of 5 on how educational the session was, 4.8 on how realistic the session was, and 4.8 on how effective the session was.
Simulation allows participants to safely gain practical experience in MCI management. The experience was well-received, and the learners verbalized increased confidence should they encounter an MCI in the future. We developed this simulation to give residents and nurses first-hand experience performing under high-stress, resource-limited conditions. We also had other learners observing the process which allowed for productive debriefing and planning for improvement. The ideas generated from this ultimately became part of the hospital’s MCI response plan. The main takeaways were triage strategy and limited resource management.
Mass casualty incident, mass gathering, penetrating trauma, high-fidelity simulation, team-based simulation, trauma center, hospital response planning.