Maintaining adequate training for effective burns disaster response

Dr Alexandra O’Neill1, Ms Joanna Camilleri1, Prof Suzanne Rea2, Winthrope Professor Fiona Wood2

1Burns Service of Western Australia, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth, Australia, 2Burn Injury Research Unit, University of Western Australia, Western Australia, Australia; Burns Service of Western Australia, Fiona Stanley Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, Perth, Australia


Introduction: Burn Mass Casualty Incidents (BMCI) are one of the most difficult events for hospitals to manage due to the extreme burden on the healthcare system due to the high demand for nursing and medical care, significant resource requirements and the unpredictability of events in ostensibly risk-free populations. Effective management of BMCI depends on comprehensive pre-incident planning. It has been 10 years since a BMCI directly affecting Western Australia and in that time the unit has relocated to a new institution. Methods: A 12-question survey was emailed to all staff involved in the response to a major burn disaster at the state’s tertiary burns hospital. Questions were designed to determine staff members previous involvement and training in major burns disasters and compare results with a similar study conducted in 2009. Results: A total of 498 staff members completed the survey with an overall response rate of 12%; 53% nurses, 30% doctors, 15% allied health and 2% were executives. A total of 773 courses had been completed by staff however 39.4% of all certifications had expired. Only 26% had participated in any disaster training exercises compared with 67% in 2009.  Conclusions: In the 10 years since a BMCI affecting WA hospital-wide training and education has declined significantly resulting in reduced staff preparedness for BMCI. Education, training and repetition of exercises are key elements of a disaster management and as such tertiary centres need to implement regular education and simulation even in times of calm to ensure best outcomes.


Calf Augmentation. 2018. O’Neill, A & Briggs, P. Oral Presentation 16th International Congress of Oriental Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (OSAPS).

Clinical Photography: using smartphone technology assists referrals to specialty units. 2016. O’Neill, A. Owen, R. & Rawlins, J. Oral presentation Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Annual Scientific Congress 2016

Keloid scarring following red-inked tattooing in Bali. 2016. O’Neill, A & Van Dam, H Poster presentation Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Annual Scientific Congress 2016

A Fraction Too Much Friction. O’Neill, A., Lam, J and Read, D. Australian New Zealand Poster presentation at Australian New Zealand Burns Association Annual Scientific Meeting, October 2013

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