Disaster Prepardness of Level 1 Trauma Centres in Australia, Canada, England and New Zealand

Professor Belinda Gabbe1, A/Professor Tony Joseph2, Professor Kate Curtis3, A/Professor David  Gomez4, Dr Kate Martin5, Professor Ian Civil6, Professor Avery Nathens4, Professor Mark Fitzgerald7, A/Professor Warwick Teague8, Professor Andrew  Holland2, Mr Bill Veitch1, Dr Fiona Lecky9, Professor Chris  Moran10

1Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, Monash University, Australia, 2School of Medicine, The University of Sydney, Australia,3Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Sydney, Australia, 4Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Canada, 5Trauma Service, The Alfred, Australia, 6School of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 7Department of Surgery, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Australia, 8Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Australia, 9Centre for Urgent and Emergency Care Research, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, 10NHS England, United Kingdom


Mass casualty incidents (MCIs) are increasing.  Trauma centres play a key role in MCIs due to their constant readiness and broad expertise.  Studies from 2007 and 2011 demonstrated deficiencies in trauma centre MCI preparedness.  Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe the current disaster preparedness of Australasian, English and Canadian Level 1 trauma centres.


A cross-sectional survey of 82 level 1 trauma centres was deployed using Qualtrics software. The anonymous survey collected data about disaster preparedness in nine key areas. Respondents were encouraged to engage with others at their centre to provide an accurate representation of their centre’s preparedness.


Responses were received from 69 (84%); 61 completed all questions on the survey. 91% had a disaster preparedness committee and 80% had an all-hazards emergency plan. 79% had held a MCI drill in the past 2 years. Only 54% reported a system in place to calculate the maximal capacity, 55% reported the presence of store resources in the case of an MCI, and 58% had a database of staff trained in Emergency Management. Most (74%) sites had a training and education plan available for staff involved in an MCI, 74% included a plan for a professionally conducted debriefing for staff within 24-72 hours of an MCI, while 62% had a post-disaster employee recovery assistance programme.  Most sites had appropriate plans for back-up communication and safety and security.


The disaster preparedness of Level 1 trauma centres was high for communication, safety and security but there was clear need for improvement in other areas including surge capacity, human resources and post-disaster recovery.


Professor Kate Curtis has been an Emergency Nurse since 1994 and is Clinical Nurse Consultant for Emergency at Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. Kate is Professor of Emergency and Trauma Nursing at the University of Sydney and an honorary professorial fellow at the George Institute for Global Health. Kate’s translational research program focuses on improving the way we deliver care to patients and their families, and has attracted more than $4 million funding. Kate is the world’s most published author in the field of Trauma and Emergency Nursing and has mentored more than 40 clinicians in research projects.