When disaster strikes, BC's Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) and our team hit the road. And, earlier this month, the MMU was in Creston. Thankfully, this MMU trip was for training purposes only.
The visit provided a valuable opportunity for specialized clinical and disaster education to Creston Valley Hospital staff and physicians and their first responder community partners.
The culmination of the deployment was a real-time mass casualty exercise involving hospital staff and physicians, RCMP, BC Emergency Health Services (BC Ambulance crews) and the fire department.
"Both the physicians and nurses were very active in the planning of how the MMU education sessions would run, and we met all of the learning objectives that were put forward by staff," says Carolyn Hawton, CVH site manager.
"The MMU team members were dynamic and collaborative and the team of participants were so engaged – all the way around the experience was excellent."
The benefit of this exercise went beyond the MMU itself.
"This was a chance for hospital staff and physicians to work as part of a broader team with our community partners to gain a better understanding and some hands-on experience of how various agencies collaborate to support the community during larger scale disasters or emergencies. The experience, knowledge and connections we built today can also be applied to the care we provide every day to residents of Creston."
In addition to the mass casualty incident exercise, the MMU visit offered clinical presentations and education sessions which brought Creston physicians and staff together with the MMU team. More than 50 IH clinicians and community partners attended these sessions. There was also an open house that allowed Creston residents to tour the MMU and see its capabilities for themselves.
The MMU is operated by Provincial Health Services Authority and is a shared resource amongst the regional health authorities. The MMU space is flexible, with the ability to support a broad range of care ranging from primary and outpatient to critical and emergency life-saving surgical care. The only resource of its kind in Canada, the program includes the unit and team which travel to each health authority regularly.
"The deployment in Creston was a perfect example of how the MMU partners with health authority stakeholders to deliver specialized education," says Peter Hennecke, MMU Clinical Operations Director.
"Thanks to collaborations with the IH Rural Mobile Sim Program, Trauma Services, BCEHS and the leadership at Interior Health and Creston Valley, we were able provide participants with comprehensive, informative and importantly, hands on education opportunities that they could directly apply to their field of practice. We want to thank everyone involved in this deployment and for helping make it so successful."
Specialized clinical and disaster education, like the session in Creston, is just one of the services the MMU provides: the program provides medical support in emergency and disaster recovery situations, outreach clinics for specialized patient populations so they can receive care in their own community, mass gathering events like music festivals, and when renovations are taking place at permanent facilities.