GNYHA and the Center for Disaster Medicine at New York Medical College piloted a first-of-its-kind Mass Casualty Triage Course for Hospital-Based and Emergency Clinicians on June 14 and June 18. At NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, the training included emergency department (ED) physicians and nurses, and at Montefiore Medical Center, emergency medicine physicians from several Montefiore sites participated.

The pilot course combines didactic learning and hands-on exercises and prepares clinicians to respond to mass casualty events that could result in dozens or more victims arriving at hospitals in short periods of time, as happened recently in Orlando and Las Vegas. The triage course’s development resulted from a GNYHA-organized fact-finding delegation visit to Las Vegas in February.

Recent mass casualty events have demonstrated that the large majority of victims arrive at EDs on their own rather than via the emergency medical services (EMS) system, so the ED staff must be prepared to conduct initial triage and continuous re-triage, and prioritize victims’ care based on available resources. The ED must also coordinate with other hospital departments that serve critical roles in moving patients from the ED to definitive care.

Feedback from the initial two classes was very positive, with hands-on exercises stressing participants’ capabilities and underscoring the importance of pre-planning and shifting to a disaster mindset. The course will be adjusted based on participants’ feedback following several more classes to be held at additional facilities. GNYHA and the Center for Disaster Medicine plan to make the course available to interested hospitals and health systems across the New York region. Development of the course has been made possible through the New York State Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation’s Center of Excellence in Precision Responses to Bioterrorism and Disasters, a program of New York State Empire State Development.