UK healthcare staff experiences and perceptions of a mass casualty terrorist incident response: a mixed-methods study
Emergency Medicine Journal
IntroductionSystem learning from major incidents is a crucial element of improving preparedness for response to any future incidents. Sharing good practice and limitations stimulates further actions to improve preparedness and prevents duplicating mistakes.MethodsThis convergent parallel mixed methods study comprises data from responses to an online survey and individual interviews with healthcare staff who took part in the responses to three terrorist incidents in the UK in 2017 (Westminster
... 2017 (Westminster Bridge attack, Manchester Arena Bombing and London Bridge attack) to understand limitations in the response and share good practices.ResultsThe dedication of NHS staff, staff availability and effective team work were the most frequently mentioned enabling factors in the response. Effective coordination between teams and a functional major incident plan facilitated an effective response. Rapid access to blood products, by positioning the blood bank in the ED, treating children and parents together and sharing resources between trauma centres were recognised as very effective innovative practices. Recent health emergency preparedness exercises (HEPEs) were valued for preparing both Trusts and individual staff for the response. Challenges included communication between ambulance services and hospitals, difficulties with patient identification and tracking and managing the return to 'normal' work patterns post event. Lack of immediately available clinical protocols to deal with blast injuries was the most commonly mentioned clinical issue. The need for psychosocial support for responding and supporting staff was identified.DiscussionBetween-agencies communication and information sharing appear as the most common recurring problems in mass casualty incidents (MCIs). Recent HEPEs, which allowed teams, interdisciplinary groups, and different agencies to practice responding to similar simulated incidents, were important and informed actions during the real response. Immediate and delayed psychosocial support should be in place for healthcare staff responding to MCIs.