A surprise mass casualty incident simulation: does it improve knowledge or is it just a bit of fun?

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We opened a national conference in Australia with a surprise mass casualty simulation scenario of a van versus multiple persons outside the conference venue. The purpose of this exercise was to increase awareness of, and preparation for, mass casualty incident (MCI) events for the conference delegates who were paramedics, emergency department nurses, and doctors.
The aim of the research is to understand whether a surprise MCI simulation is a useful way to increase knowledge and motivate preparedness.
A survey hosted on Qualtrics was circulated to delegates via email. The survey was designed by the research team and had 38 questions about demographics and respondents’ experience with MCIs, as well as their perceptions of the simulation exercise. The questions were a mixture of 5-point Likert scales, multiple choice, and short answers.
The majority of respondents were clinicians (n = 66, 76%) and those who worked in emergency departments or the prehospital setting (n = 75, 86%). While the majority had not responded to an MCI in the past 5 years (n = 67, 77%), more than half (n = 50, 57%) had undertaken MCI training during this time. Overall, a vast majority of respondents found the simulation to be a worthwhile exercise that increased knowledge and preparedness. An overwhelming majority also reported that the simulation was relevant to practice, of high quality, and a useful way to teach about major incidents.
Our surprise major incident simulation was a fun and effective way to raise awareness and increase knowledge in prehospital and emergency department clinicians about MCI response. This approach to simulation can be easily replicated at relatively low cost and is, therefore, a useful solution to training a group of multidisciplinary health professionals outside of the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-19
Number of pages2
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
EventWADEM Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2019 -
Duration: 7 May 2019 → …


  • mass casualty incidents
  • simulation


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