Health Department, Fire Department, Emergency Management Conduct Pediatric Disaster Exercise

Largest pediatric disaster training exercise the City has ever conducted

Over 300 people participated in the exercise across three City agencies and 28 hospitals

May 25, 2017 – The Health Department, Fire Department, and Emergency Management today conducted an emergency exercise at 28 hospitals, the largest pediatric disaster training exercise the City has ever conducted. The exercise simulated a mass casualty event that would create a surge of pediatric patients, including a large number of pediatric patients in critical condition. The exercise tested participants’ ability to triage patients who require transfer to another facility; coordinate transportation of severely injured patients between hospitals; divert critically injured patients to clinical services; assess available hospital beds citywide; manage family members looking for patients or news media attempting to enter the facility; and communicate internally and with City agencies. Funding for the exercise was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response through the Hospital Preparedness Program.

“No one wants to imagine a disaster scenario involving our children, but today’s exercise will help us provide the best, most efficient care during a large-scale emergency,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Preparedness exercises are key to ensure that City agencies and hospitals are ready to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers during disasters.”

“As we’ve seen countless times before, firefighters and EMS providers are selflessly committed to doing all they can for New Yorkers who need their help - but our city’s children warrant and deserve extra special attention and concern,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “This exercise envisions a scenario we’d rather not think about – but one that we must be prepared to confront and handle as effectively as possible.”

"Today’s exercise gives City agencies and hospitals the opportunity to practice how we can work together to provide the best care to New Yorkers in times of disaster, " said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito.

“The Pediatric Disaster Coalition believes that it is imperative to realize that children and their needs must be specifically addressed in all stages of preparedness, response, and recovery,” said Dr. Michael Frogel, Co-Principal Investigator of the Pediatric Disaster Coalition and Chairman of the National Pediatric Disaster Coalition.

“Conducting exercises that challenge responders to consider children and their families is essential for providing the best outcomes during real time events,” Dr. George Foltin, Co-Principal Investigator of the Pediatric Disaster Coalition and Vice Chair, Clinical Services, Department of Pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center. “Lessons learned are utilized to continuously improve the overall capabilities of New York City.”

Over 300 people across the 28 hospitals and at the FDNY Operations Center participated in the exercise. The three agencies planned the exercise in coordination with the New York City Pediatric Disaster Coalition, a health care coalition that brings together hospitals and health care facilities with public health workers and first responders that is based at Maimonides Medical Center. The Health Department will evaluate the exercise in partnership with the New York City Medical Reserve Corps and hospital staff.

“New York City’s government agencies are widely recognized as the most effective first responders in the nation, if not the world,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “One way our city has achieved that distinction is through emergency training exercises like today’s simulation of a mass casualty event involving dozens of pediatric patients. It’s a nightmare scenario, but one for which New York’s municipal agencies are rightly preparing.”

Since 2009, the Health Department has worked with the FDNY, NYCEM and the Pediatric Disaster Coalition to coordinate the health care system response to large-scale mass casualty incidents that might impact children. Last year, the Health Department and the Pediatric Disaster Coalition conducted an exercise with 13 hospitals to test their pediatric surge plans; the hospitals were able to increase their pediatric critical care capacity by more than 80 percent within a few hours.

About the Pediatric Disaster Coalition

The Health Department founded NYC Pediatric Disaster Coalition in 2008 to ensure a coordinated response to a large-scale disaster affecting children. The PDC is comprised of experts in emergency preparedness, pediatric critical care, surgery, emergency medicine, and representatives from the Health Department, Emergency Management, and Fire Department. Funded by the Health Department, the PDC continually works to enhance the planning and emergency response capabilities of New York City hospitals, agencies and community members on behalf of the city’s two million children (22% of the city’s population) and their families. The PDC assisted all New York City hospitals with pediatric services to develop the pediatric surge plans, a critical step for the execution of the pediatric disaster exercise.

For more information on the Health Department’s emergency preparedness efforts, visit the website.

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