It’s been a bad few years for hypothetical Noble’s Hospital. Last month an explosion at the Triumph factory caused a cloud of poisonous gas, a few years ago there was a plane crash, before that a fairground ride fell on a crowd, and, of course, there was the horrible accident at the Ramsey Sprint motorbike event. Apart from there wasn’t, because none of these things actually happened, but they could, and that’s why each year the Isle of Man runs a major incident exercise. The exercise is a comprehensive simulation exercise integrating live play, command and control, and table top elements. In an emergency situation all hands would need to be on deck so the exercise is open to multiple agencies. This year there were nearly 200 participants from Manx Care and other Government agencies including the police, and fire service. Journalists have also taken part in the past. Everyone involved has different responsibilities, and that includes the library team who, along with the rest of the education team, are responsible for running the relative’s reception.

Thankfully we haven’t had to try it for real, it will definitely be a difficult role, but the practice helps us to prepare. Although I was initially worried about how we would take this task on, it quickly became apparent that it involves some of our key skills. Firstly, organising information. We have developed forms, plans for how we will input the data, and how to process it effectively. Secondly, customer service skills are a significant part of the role. We are responsible for interacting with people who are very emotionally charged and ensuring we clearly communicate the process of logging information and how they will be contacted with updates.

Lots of people wondering when it will be tea break

One of the key things that guides us is our action cards. We wrote these out after the first major incident exercise and staff keep them updated (we learn something every time!) The action cards, contact lists, and various other useful things are stored in our major incident trolley – a one stop shop for anyone who arrives to the building to deal with a major incident. Whoever is first on the scene grabs it and gets going! Some of our team are clinical and may be redeployed while the incident is ongoing, but having the action cards helps us keep track of what needs doing, whoever gets sent elsewhere can just hand off the card to someone else when they leave. The staff have done our best to ensure that we do as much thinking as we can in advance to let us act in the moment!

Although the scenario changes year on year, and so do the challenges presented to us, there is a common theme which the library team is well equipped to help with: the need to organise, communicate, and use information effectively.

    Stacey Astill - Senior Library Assistant -Keyll Darree Library - Isle of man