December 5, Kyiv, UkraineSAMS and partners held a two-day training course in Kyiv last week to prepare 50 medical staff from 19 frontline hospitals to prepare for and respond to mass casualty incidents. It was the largest known mass casualty incident (MCI) preparedness course delivered to hospitals in Ukraine. Participants included regional health directors, hospital directors, chiefs of surgery, chiefs of ICU, and select medical staff, representing 19 hospitals located in six oblasts (administrative areas) in Northeast, East, and Southeast Ukraine.

Since February, the conflict in Ukraine has caused over 6,490 civilian deaths and 9,972 injuries, in addition to the over 700 attacks on healthcare facilities across the country according to recent WHO and OHCHR reports. A large majority of attacks are caused by explosive weapons with wide area impacts, which caused 95 percent of civilian casualties in October alone. The staggering number of victims of these attacks has had far-reaching impacts on Ukraine’s health system, which is concurrently struggling to cope with a myriad of challenges, including mitigating major disruptions in medical supply chains, insufficient power and energy supply, and the displacement of medical staff.

The MCI training provided a structured forum for hospital directors and medical staff to share their experiences from the nine-month conflict among their peers, learn about evidence-based practices in mass casualty management, review and update their preparedness plans, and learn key change management techniques that will assist them in implementing their MCI preparedness plans with their staff and external stakeholders.

The lead trainer was Dr. Neil Shorney of UK Med who co-authored the WHO Academy Course on Mass Casualty Planning. Dr. Vadym Aristov and colleagues from Kyiv-based Revival Institute facilitated the course, leading sessions on organizational learning and change management, and helped organize the event with SAMS and United Help for Ukraine (UHU).

One of the hospital directors from the heavily-impacted Kharkiv Oblast shared their feedback at the end of the training:

“Now I understand that we were totally unprepared, and now I will return knowing what needs to be done.”

The training course was part of SAMS’ larger project with partners Revival Institute and UHU to develop Ukrainian hospitals’ capacity to respond effectively to mass casualty incidents by providing tailored kits of supplies needed during MCIs, facilitating trainings in MCI preparedness, and strengthening coordination among Ukrainian hospitals, humanitarian aid organizations, and health authorities.