Emergency Response Training with the Canadian Red Cross

Yesterday myself and a few other members of the Canadian Red Cross Social Media team visited a Red Cross field hospital. The field hospitals (or “ERU” – emergency response unit’s) are fully functioning hospitals that are deployed internationally within 48 hours in the event of a disaster. They were deployed in Haiti after the earthquake and the Canadian ERU team has been deployed to assist in recent cholera outbreaks. The team is made up of highly skilled doctors, nurses, social workers, administrators, technicians, etc. who are deployed in the event of an emergency.

We were invited for a tour of the ERU training site in Schomberg and participated in a training exercise for the participants being trained: a surprise mass casualty. As the participants got ready for bed in their ERU camp, almost 50 volunteers put on makeup and fake blood to simulate a bus crash in a third world country that had already been decimated by an earthquake. Around 9:30pm some victims drove to the ERU camp in trucks honking their horns and the rest of the victims followed on foot screaming into the night. Victims were suffering from everything from glass in their heads, amputations and heart attacks to knocked out teeth, a pregnant woman in labour and a few well-intentioned civilians who were just plain trying to get in the way. The participants had to effectively triage each patient and treat them depending on the severity of their injury.

I have put together a Storify featuring all of our tweets from yesterday’s experience. You can see that here.  City TV was there too, a clip of their story aired on the 11pm news last night.

Yesterday’s experience was truly humbling and made me so proud to be working with an organization like the Canadian Red Cross.


The Canadian Red Cross also recently released the results of a survey on social media in emergencies. The results show that most Canadians think that emergency responders are monitoring social media channels for reports of emergencies and expect that within an hour of posting a call for help that responders would arrive.

The survey results are posted here and you are welcome to weigh in with your opinions in the comments.

A quick humblebrag: the release of the survey made us trend on Twitter!

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