The Royal Dutch Navy and Royal Marines held their annual Hurricane Preparedness Exercise “Hurex” simulation in Windwardside on Monday morning, as is reported in The Daily Herald. The complex disaster scenario involved a severe car accident with two wrecked vehicles and an electricity post crashing onto one vehicle in the proximity of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Scout’s Place hotel and restaurant. There were 14 victims simulating varying degrees of injury from bruises and severe burns to gushing blood, broken bones and brain damage. The volunteer-actors did an excellent job in creating an atmosphere of havoc, complete with actors challenging the emergency responders to redirect priorities and with simulated fire and smog engulfing the scene.
Local emergency responders were tested not only on their immediate response capacity, but also on their abilities to prioritize, set up a victim-triage system and coordinating communication with other response teams such as the Fire and Police Departments. Saba Health Care Foundation (SHCF) Hurex exercises coordinator Anika van Dijk confirmed that all trained medical staff of A.M. Edwards Medical Centre participated in the exercise. SHCF was not informed of the type of challenge they would face, instead the medical team met Saturday for a short session in rehearsing procedures. They received an emergency phone call Monday at 8:25am, during which they were informed about the location and gravity of the incident involving more than 10 victims. The ambulances responded immediately with additional staff following. Nursing administrator Van Dijk and nurse Naomi Wilson were involved in setting up the triage process in the courtyard and sheltered environment of Eugenius Johnson Centre. Physicians Dr. Gijs Koot and Dr. Gina Boorsma took charge of the scene directing eight nurses and prioritizing the response. Dr. Koot channelled communication with Chief of Basic Police Care Coenraad Klein Swormink and local Fire Department Commander Julio Every. Fire fighters were on site immediately assessing the threat and working on releasing the victims by removing the doors of the wrecked car. One of the 14 acting victims “died” and two of the victims required a simulated evacuation to St. Maarten. The simulation did not include an actual flight to St. Maarten, but only logistic coordination with the helicopter service. Van Dijk noted that in terms of material preparedness the emergency responders had all the necessary equipment, but that in terms of human resources medical personnel were overextended. She explained that in the past SHCF’s medical staff would benefit from assistance from the Red Cross team which “unfortunately” was unable to participate in this simulation. However, despite these deficiencies Van Dijk felt staff had the situation under control in a short amount of time. The performance of local emergency responders will be assessed internally and navy and marines’ representatives are to inform Island Governor Jonathan Johnson on areas of improvement.