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Sunnybrook led the first 'GTA Unified' emergency preparedness exercise

November 29, 2019


Yesterday, Sunnybrook coordinated and led ‘GTA Unified’, a tabletop exercise designed to evaluate a health-system response to a mock complex mass casualty incident within the Greater Toronto Area.

The exercise involved 34 participating organizations, including 22 hospitals, and a planning team of 80 multi-disciplinary members. It was the largest health-sector focused mass casualty preparedness exercise ever conducted in Canada.

“We are so impressed with the way everyone engaged with and challenged themselves throughout this exercise,” says Claudia Cocco, chair of the GTA Unified planning committee and Manager of Emergency Preparedness for Sunnybrook. “We don’t ever want events like this to take place, but it’s crucial to prepare for them and learn from each other.”

GTA Unified presented participating organizations with several mock scenarios that together resulted in over 300 paper-based casualties spread across the healthcare system. The tabletop learning environment tested current emergency response plans, systems and processes using the organization’s occupancy status at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday. Updates and new information about the unfolding scenario were provided throughout the morning and afternoon to all sites via real time online meeting software. Participants used game pieces to signify their resources, like personnel, and equipment.

“We saw a lot of good communication between teams and partner organizations,” says Claudia. “We were able to identify gaps and successes throughout the process, which is what we aimed to achieve.”

Sunnybrook presented GTA Unified as lead of the Regional Hospital Emergency Preparedness Planning Program for the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.