Our People in Profile: Dr. John Armstrong helps health professionals prepare to provide care in large-scale emergencies

Dr. John Armstrong
Dr. John Armstrong is an emergency physician at the Charles V. Keating Emergency and Trauma Centre (contributed)
Dr. John Armstrong likes to be prepared – in life and at work. 
“I like to have a contingency plan for my contingency plan,” he stated.  
This natural tendency, supported by an Emergency Medicine residency at Dalhousie University and a Master’s Degree in Disaster Medicine from the Università del Piemonte Orientale, make this full-time emergency physician, practicing at the Charles V. Keating Emergency and Trauma Centre, a perfect fit for the role of medical advisor for emergency preparedness. 
When it comes to preparing for large-scale emergencies like mass casualties, evacuations or major storms, Armstrong is there to provide clinical oversight. 
He works alongside Nova Scotia Health Authority’s (NSHA) emergency preparedness team. 
He offers clinical training to front line staff and provides clinical input into emergency preparedness training scenarios, such as exercise HEX 19, held this fall at South Shore Regional Hospital. 
This exercise included a simulated motor vehicle incident crashing into a crowd of people, resulting in mass casualties.
Armstrong says facilitating this type of training for people who are providing front line care “…can open eyes in terms of how to best care for patients in mass casualty situations.” 
Preparing a system to respond effectively to emergencies is a constant process, he said. 
“The work of emergency preparedness will lead to a more prepared health system and more coordination among sites in situations like mass casualties and evacuations.”
While NSHA does everything possible to prepare for emergencies, Armstrong reminds Nova Scotians that “emergency preparedness starts with you. People should have a plan for their own well-being in case of an emergency, and for the well-being of family members.” 
He points to some specific examples:
  • ice packs for medications that need refrigeration
  • prescription refills
  • an extra pair of glasses
  • three days’ worth of non-perishable food
  • a minimum of two litres of water per person, per day for three days – don’t forget pets!
As Nova Scotians plan for their individual readiness in an emergency, Armstrong and the other members of the emergency preparedness team will continue to prepare the system to provide the best possible care in an emergency. 
Thanks for your commitment to emergency preparedness, John!