Healthcare Emergency Operations Centre ready for medical emergencies in the Toronto area |
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Emergency Medical Services (EMS) - Toronto is better prepared than ever to
respond to major medical emergencies and manage healthcare at large events.
Toronto EMS announced today that a permanent Healthcare Emergency Operations
Centre (HEOC) has been established at Toronto EMS headquarters at 4330 Dufferin
The Healthcare EOC is designed to provide incident managers at emergency sites
with logistical support so they can concentrate on managing patient care. The
HEOC's specially trained staff will co-ordinate information flow between the
emergency or event site and the City's main Emergency Operations Centre, senior
staff and Toronto's healthcare stakeholders.
"We set up a temporary Healthcare EOC for World Youth Day and it was very
successful," said Walter Chandon, Senior EMS Planner - Program Development,
Toronto EMS. "The HEOC was an effective remote hub, relaying information to and
from the field and directing staffing and supply support. During World Youth
Day, the HEOC fielded over 800 calls in just six days. We had requests for
everything - from vehicle repairs, cots, maps and medicine to water, ice, food,
sunscreen and radio batteries."
Funding for the project came from the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program
(JEPP), an initiative of the federal Department of National Defence's Office of
Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP) and
Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Public
Safety and Security.
"Managing major emergency incidents on scene is a difficult task, especially
when there are many patients requiring urgent attention simultaneously, as was
the case during World Youth Day," said Ron Kelusky, General Manager of Toronto
EMS. "The medical staff at the sites were very busy. The HEOC directed staff
and materials to where they were needed, allowing field staff to concentrate on
taking care of patients. The HEOC also helped us keep senior City staff, the
media, other emergency service agencies and the local health care network-from
Toronto Public Health to local and regional hospitals-updated on what was going
on or what help we needed."
The Government of Canada has approved $359,152 in JEPP funding toward the HEOC
project. This funding, along with a City of Toronto contribution of about
$100,000, will allow Toronto EMS to purchase the special equipment needed for
the office, including emergency power, telephone and radio systems.
The project also required the purchase of a telephone automated dialling system
which can be preprogrammed with telephone numbers and audio messages. "The
autodialer can send recorded messages to EMS staff or other healthcare
providers, which will help us mobilize and deploy staff and resources," added
Kelusky. "In a large-scale emergency, we can recall staff immediately to get
all hands on deck."
Specially trained staff are being assigned to the project, which means the
expertise and experience they gained from operating the World Youth Day HEOC
will be maintained.
"Toronto EMS has accepted a leadership role with respect to planning for
Toronto's health care network and the City of Toronto's Emergency Plan and
Incident Management System," said Chandon. "Thanks to this funding from the
OCIPEP and EMO, the Healthcare EOC is now part of Toronto's permanent emergency