The timeline of information exchange: a service evaluation of London Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s front line communication and emergency response to Exercise Unified Response
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Journal titleBritish Paramedic Journal
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AbstractAbstract published with permission. Introduction: Exercise Unified Response, Europe’s largest major incident training exercise to date, provided a rich environment for the emergency services to test their multi-agency crisis response capabilities. Supported by the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, this service evaluation examined London Ambulance Service NHS Trust front line communication and decision-making via body-worn camera footage. Methods: Twenty London Ambulance Service NHS Trust front line responders and evaluators were each equipped with a body-worn camera during Exercise Unified Response. The service evaluation aimed to: (a) produce timelines of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s response in order to identify key events and actions during the ‘golden hour’ (the crucial first hour in the care of trauma patients), the proceedings of command meetings and the multi-agency response; and (b) develop recommendations for future training and evaluations. Results: The service evaluation identified that, within the golden hour, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust first responders rightly and rapidly declared the event a major incident, requested resources and assigned roles. Triage crews were tasked quickly, though it was identified that their efficiency may be further enhanced through more detailed triage briefings prior to entering the scene. The command meetings (led by the Metropolitan Police) lacked efficiency, and all agencies could make more effective use of the multi-agency shared radio network to address ongoing matters. Finally, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service NHS Trust teams demonstrated clear communication and co-ordination towards casualty extraction. Conclusion: Successful multi-agency working requires clear communication, information sharing and timely command meetings. It is recommended that Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles multi-agency talk groups should be utilised more frequently and used to complete a joint METHANE report. In addition, training in areas such as communication skills and detailed briefings will enhance the front line response. Finally, body-worn cameras are shown to be an effective service evaluation tool, as a basis for promoting best practice as well as highlighting areas for future training and evaluations.