Hospital staff test response to emergency flooding

Some of the NSW Health team: Alison Comerford from Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s (NBMLHD) disaster management team, Bethany Pade and Tristan Chapman from NBMLHD mental health, Westmead Hospital social worker Christine Vo and Dr Kavita Varshney from Westmead emergency.

Sydney Olympic Park was transformed into a mass evacuation centre with hundreds of volunteers role playing and re-enacting a flooding scenario.

The exercise, called ‘Exercise Deerubbin’ was designed to test the response of more than 25 government agencies to a devastating flood scenario in the Hawkesbury Nepean catchment area.

Western Sydney Local Health District staff took part alongside representatives from NSW Health, NSW Police, Transport NSW, the State Emergency Service (SES) and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) disaster manager Caren Friend said WSLHD’s role was to support the health of survivors.

“Role-playing volunteers acted as evacuees, prompting the emergency services to test their readiness and planning,” Caren said.

St John Ambulance paramedics and the health team ‘re-enact’ stabilising a patient.

“This included the registration of evacuees, housing of both humans and animals, welfare support and treatment of primary healthcare needs,” Caren said.

“The team also took part in scenarios which required interventions such as access to medication, wound care, psychosocial support and referral for further follow up treatment.

“The WSLHD team deployed to the exercise included doctors, nurses, mental health support clinicians including social work, public health and environmental health.

“It’s important that people know that we continuously review our emergency plans with our emergency services.

“Our staff performed extremely well and taking part in these testing scenarios allow us to be prepared if a disaster of this scale affects us.”

To view video highlights from the exercise, visit the NSW Police Facebook page.