Professor Tom Potokor and Professor Patricia Price helped to design, deliver and evaluate an important pilot training event that focused on a more coordinated approach in the face of mass casualty events within the EU.
The EU has developed a Mass Burns Response Plan following a series of high casualty events, which have highlighted the need for a more coordinated approach, for example, the nightclub fire in Bucharest, Romania in which 64 people lost their lives. The training course was developed and delivered to address the limited availability of clinical and logistical expertise in the area of burns in the face of such catastrophic events.
Interburns, Norwegian Directorate of Health, the European Burn Association, and The Centre for Global Burn Injury Policy and Research responded to Tender No ECHO/B3/SER/2019.7. The funding was awarded to Interburns and the group of organisations worked in partnership to deliver the training. The teams that attended were carefully selected based on their experience and skill set. The chosen teams were from; France, Netherlands, Austria, Spain and a Nordic team.
One of the aims of the pilot training event was to develop a more coordinated response in which a country with a crisis could call upon the EU to deploy trained Burn Assessment Teams (B-teams).
B-teams are the response team the EU can call upon in the event of a mass casualty event such as terrorist attacks, factory explosions, or fires in densely populated buildings, if they receive a request for help from the affected country. Each B-team consists of; a surgeon, anaesthetist/intensivist, burn nurse, and an emergency co-ordinator. All are required to have more than five years of clinical experience.
In the event of a high casualty scenario, B-teams are expected to;
The training took place over three days (20th-23rd January 2020) at the Fire Service College in Moreton-In-Marsh, Gloucestershire.
Part of the training was to teach a ‘disaster mindset’ where the teams would need to consider mass casualties as opposed to individual needs in a clinical hospital setting. Team members were taught to consider triage environments and the logistics of coordinating and organising their team to be effective.
The focus of the pilot was to train B-teams who will play an integral role in the EU Mass Burns Response Plan. The aim of the training was to ensure an appropriate level of preparedness in the face of catastrophic events, with an emphasis on recreating such disaster scenarios through simulation exercises.
On the first day of the training, following a presentation on an overview of global burn casualties, the teams then rotated around presentations based on real case scenarios by faculty members who had been involved. These cases were; a Romanian nightclub fire, an oil tanker explosion in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a fighter jet crash at Albacete. The participants were encouraged to reflect on key issues, and what could have been done differently.
Day two of the training honed in on the clinical scenarios and role-play. The hypothetical situation being explored was a burn casualty event in a hypothetical country that was requesting support. Participants were supported by experienced burn nurses and medical students to enact the role-play activity. Those with experience of conflict or disaster situations contributed to the training with supplementary anecdotal and experiential knowledge.
On the final day of training teamwork was established through a series of tasks that focused on leadership, team dynamics, and decision-making.
Professor Tom Potokar and Professor Patricia Price visited Brussels, with other core members of the Faculty, to present the evaluation of the pilot training, which has been largely positive, and to discuss future plans for further training events. Despite the success of the pilot training, it is apparent that more teams are needed to support the new EU policy. In addition, re-fresher training needs to be considered in line with developing technologies and treatment.
This pilot course is just one component of an overarching process of implementation needed to ensure that relevant, high quality staff training takes place across the Member States.