Nova Scotia Health Authority tests emergency preparedness

Hurricane Scenario

Nova Scotia Health Authority participated with the Department of Health and Wellness, IWK Health Centre and other partners to test communication and system response to severe weather impacting most of Nova Scotia. The morning-long exercise presented many challenges for the health system. They included mass casualties, widespread power outages and building collapses in different areas of the province. These scenarios allowed staff to test communication and co-ordination of services in our new structure.

“As our first such exercise as Nova Scotia Health Authority, this was a really valuable opportunity to come together as a team and co-ordinate our response from a provincial perspective,” said Bethany McCormick, senior director of Planning, Performance and Accountability.

The NSHA teams demonstrated a high level of preparedness, expertise and experience as they activated emergency operations centres in five locations, she said. The exercise also showed some areas for improvement, as intended. For example, it will be important to continue to clarify roles. There were also some important lessons about the value of technology in co-ordination and communication, including working to make better use of existing data systems such as the provincial bed board to gather information, said McCormick.

Adverse is the first of periodic exercises for the new organization as it ensures its preparedness to respond to an emergency. Lessons from each exercise will help NSHA improve as it plans and practices with partners to respond as a system to meet the health and safety needs of Nova Scotians.