Residents here in Weyburn might have seen a convoy of emergency vehicles around town yesterday. There was no need to panic, though, as first responders were practicing a Code Orange.
A Code Orange is an all-hands-on-deck disaster situation, or mass casualties, with overflows at the hospital and secondary sites and rooms needed to treat patients. Debra Button, with the Saskatchewan Healthy Authority, says the drill was long overdue.
"The way we set up the test was to overflow the capacity of the Weyburn General Hospital. Our ER beds were full, our ICU was full, so we then needed to move people to our secondary facility, which in our emergency plan is Tatagwa View," Button explained. "The Code Orange is the disaster and it can come in many forms. It was time for us to do a mock, it was due."
There's not set dates for practices to be completed, however, Button says it's better to be prepared in case of a disaster.
"If it ever does come about that we have such a big disaster in Weyburn or around, we need to be prepared. The only way to really be prepared is to test the system. Hopefully, it ever needs to happen we'll be ready."
It takes a lot of coordination and planning to put an event like this together. Aside from getting the Weyburn Police Service, the EMS, Weyburn Fire Department and the Weyburn General Hospital on board, they also needed help from students from the Comp, as well as actors from the Crocus 80 Theatre. Button stressed the drill wouldn't have been possible without everyone working together.
"I am very grateful for everyone coming to the table — the Weyburn Fire, the City, the EMS, all of the departments coming together to make this a success. A lot of work went into the planning of it and we certainly appreciate all of the emergency people who were ready to respond," said Buton, a co-chair of the event. "There was a group of students from the Weyburn Comprehensive School that are in an emergency class that they're taking. They were phenomenal and came prepared. We're very grateful to Crocus 80 Theatre who supplied us with some actors and tested us in another way as well."
All things considered, the mock incident went pretty well. They identified areas for improvement but also found things that worked well if such a situation were to actually occur.
"It was a huge success for us," she said. "When you see it physically rolling out you see where some of your gaps are and we did see some of that yesterday. It was a great learning experience."