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Handling crises, Aga Khan way

Ambulances started arriving one after another at Aga Khan Hospital minutes after the attack began.

At first, it would have passed as a scene straight from hell at the Accident and Emergency Unit for there was confusion and panic fueled by communication breakdown.

Were it not for the team of paramedics who worked tirelessly to ensure every patient was attended to, matters would have been worse.

“Ambulances were arriving bumper to tail. As one arrived, another quickly sped out. Receiving the patients was instantaneous,” said Eunice Tole, the Accident and Emergency Management Programme Administrator at the hospital.

As the ambulances continued to arrive, so did the number of patients.

The hospital’s Emergency Incident Command System (ICS) came in handy to save tens of lives.

It is a system that breaks the structure of command in any emergency situation to ensure patients are attended to promptly and effectively.

The work was overwhelming but paramedics were confident they could handle it because they had their roles clearly spelt out in the command system.

It is a four-tier system headed by an incident commander who is propped by safety and information officers.

These are followed by the liaison officer who is followed by operations, planning, logistics and finance and administration officers.

“There was a lot of confusion whenever such incidents happened. The ICS was adopted to manage all that,” said Ms Tole.

The structure establishes a chain of command where responders to disasters know who to report to, meaning that they can only report to one person and span of control which is a supervisory role.

The emergency management committee at the hospital agreed that the system ensures flow of information and is vital in saving lives.