Tabletop Exercise 1/2019 at Acute Psychiatric Ward

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15 Jan 2019 – Occupational Safety and Health Unit has once again successfully organised a Tabletop Exercise, the first for this year. The primary target unit for the exercise this round is Acute Psychiatric Ward. Besides the ward, Security Unit, telephone operators and the hospital’s Emergency Response Team members were also involved.

The double-storey Acute Psychiatric Ward in Sarawak General Hospital

Tabletop exercise is the simplest level of disaster preparedness training involving discussion-based emergency and disaster scenarios. They are usually done in a half-day session with participants from a targeted ward or unit. Scenarios such as fire seen at particular part of the ward are used to trigger off discussions among participants to explain and highlight their roles and action during a disaster. The whole session is controlled by an exercise controller who gives scenario injections during the session.

The main objective of a tabletop exercise is to test a unit’s emergency response plan. This session at the Acute Psychiatric Ward is particularly aimed at testing contingency plans for handling a special patient population, i.e. the psychiatric inpatient group who may impose challenges in terms of cooperation during handling and evacuation. Hence, the involvement of Security Unit to aid in taking care of these patients during evacuation process. Among pertinent discussion points included how to handle uncooperative patients, semi-mobile suicidal patient group and missing headcount.

Tabletop Exercise

The scenario for this Tabletop started with a fire in the pantry, detected by a male nurse who smelt smoke during a Monday morning. The male nurse subsequently had to explain his reaction and action. Every action he mentioned had a consequence. For instance, because he did not opt to put out the fire first, it grew bigger and eventually got out of control, with evacuation triggered, as a result. Other participants also had roles to play. Fire Warden and Floor Warden explained their action during the disaster.

Overall, participants during this Tabletop exercise were active in the exercise. They contributed ideas when scenarios are injected throughout the exercise. At the same time, observers from the hospital’s Fire Safety Committee were attentive to listen. After the exercise, they gave constructive feedback at the end of the session. Questions and answers were held to clarify doubts regarding action and responses during an emergency.

Attentive participants

At the end of the day, it was a successful exercise with many bring-home messages to improve on Acute Psychiatric Ward’s emergency response plan. Every participant is issued an e-certificate following this exercise.

A group picture at the end of the session

Interested in holding a Tabletop Exercise for your unit or ward? Spaces are limited as we usually only organise one exercise every six months. Preparations include having a documented Emergency Response Plan for testing, eager participants and a few prep sessions with the OSH Unit prior to the actual exercise day. Please contact for more information.

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