Today, many of the largest organizations and businesses have incident response teams that are designed to respond to unusual and dangerous situations quickly. Some businesses may have incident response teams to deal with unexpected computer system failures or major electrical outages. Large hospitals should also have carefully planned teams that can deal with mass injuries and casualties.

Of course, in a health care organization, this team would be institution-wide and would include many different leaders in all departments. However, the patient care aspect of the team would most likely be centered in the emergency department, which would be called upon to take in large numbers of patients very quickly.

Understanding When an Incident Response Team Is Needed

Hospital incident response teams should be created in large metropolitan hospitals as well as in facilities that are known as Critical Access Hospitals. However, these teams can be used even in shortened formats in smaller, rural hospitals as well. Teams will be called upon to respond to large public emergencies, such as bomb threats and chemical exposures as well as to destructive natural disasters, such as tornadoes and earthquakes that could lead to many injuries.

Choosing the Members to Be on the Team

Across the hospital, members from every major department, including safety officers, public relations personnel, finance leaders and security directors, should be on a team headed up by an incident commander. Each team will work under a chief to ensure that the team runs smoothly.

In the emergency department, the team will likely be headed by the ER manager. The team should include a wide variety of health care personnel who would be needed to care for injured patients, including critical care and internal medicine doctors, registered nurses, CNAs, respiratory therapists and radiologists among others. Consider adding health care members who have additional certifications that set them apart as leaders, such as those who hold ACLS, TNCC or CEN certifications.

Training Team Members to Be Ready to Go

The only way that an ER incident response team will run smoothly is with plenty of training and practice. All major team members should undergo hands-on training and should ensure that those working under them also know what is expected of them in an emergency. The department should also adopt clear policies so all employees know what is expected of them.

Making the Incident Response Team a Hospital-Wide Effort

While the emergency department incident response team is often the first hands-on team needed in the health care organization, patients coming into the ER will certainly need to be transferred to other departments that can better meet their needs. Therefore, this response team should also have members from the operating room, general medical floor and critical care unit, which will be the areas most needed for these types of patients.

Activating the Incident Response Team in the Emergency Department

Once you have your ER incident response team ready to go, you should have clear guidelines for when it should be deployed. Usually, incidents resulting in a dozen or more injuries should call for emergency responses. You may not need to call out your entire team immediately.

Of course, some trial and error may be necessary as you get your hospitals incident response team ready to go. Don’t expect immediate perfection. It also may take changing members out until you find the best team. As time goes on, they’ll create a sense of unity and learn how to work together smoothly.

Don’t have members with the necessary certifications? Or do you need additional certifications or renewals? Take a moment to look over our healthcare certification courses. We provide courses on our Oakland and Sacramento campuses, as well as the opportunity for us to come to your organization to teach groups. Contact us to discuss your needs and how we can accommodate them.