Education Matters Sunnybrook Magazine – Spring 2017

Working together in the trauma unit: police and ED staff

Toronto Police Officer in Sunnybrook's Emergency Department

Sunnybrook and the Toronto Police Services have developed a program that’s helped improve collaboration between both teams in the trauma unit.

There are some cases that stick with you when you’re a police officer.

For Constable Paul Breeze, it was the horrific collision last summer involving a young woman who was in the passenger seat of an SUV. Unconscious, she was rushed to the Tory Regional Trauma Centre at Sunnybrook and Constable Breeze was there to share important details with the team.

Paramedics were able to identify the woman quickly, allowing Constable Breeze to contact her family right away and then bring in Victim Services Toronto, a community-based agency that works with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to provide free, immediate response and support for families of victims in crisis situations.

Discharged from Sunnybrook in December, the young woman is now well on her way to recovery. Constable Breeze, who works in the Traffic Services division of the TPS, recalls how well the two teams worked together that day, something that he and Sunnybrook have been working on to make their collaboration even better.

“So many things went right that day,” he recalls. “Everyone worked together perfectly.”A former combat medic with the British Armed Forces, Constable Breeze is familiar with Emergency Department (ED) and trauma bay terminology and procedures – vital experience that has made him the division’s go-to guy for crisis scenarios.

He has been working with Sharon Ramagnano, manager of Trauma Services at Sunnybrook, on an orientation program that shares his trauma knowledge and know-how with police officers, so they will know what to do and how to behave in a trauma setting.

“Often, younger officers have never been in a hospital trauma unit before. They don’t know who’s who and what their role is, and it can be overwhelming,” Ramagnano points out. “The program guides them to the right people in the trauma unit.”

Called “A Police Officer’s Guide to the Trauma Room,” the program offers an in-class session with videos featuring trauma protocol and procedure. It clarifies the role of the police, hospital policies and appropriate conduct in the trauma area.

The program was a collaboration between Constable Breeze and Ramagnano, alongside Agnes Ryzynski, manager of simulation and curriculum development at Sunnybrook’s Canadian Simulation Centre and was based on trauma bay experiences and case studies. Last September it was presented for the first time at the Toronto Police College.

“[For the videos], we filmed scenarios the right way and then the wrong way, showing, [for example], a police officer standing too close to the patient care area and not getting names right for paperwork,” says Ramagnano.

Educating police on trauma bay policies has had a side benefit of enlightening the hospital’s trauma team, too. When an abbreviated version of the police presentation was shared with Sunnybrook, team members gained a better understanding of why visiting police officers are in the Emergency Department’s trauma unit and what they might need from hospital staff.

“The videos showed missed opportunities for evidence,” says Ramagnano, “such as staff throwing out an article of clothing that may seem insignificant to them but has importance to the police investigation.”

The program has helped both sides understand the role each plays in the care of the patient and in support of the patient’s family, resulting in improved communication and collaboration between police and the trauma team.

The program has been so successful that Sunnybrook received a community award from Toronto Police Traffic Services.

“It’s an award for community partners working together with us, and recognizes the teamwork that went into the development of this program, between Traffic Services, the Trauma Centre and the Simulation Centre. We felt it was important to recognize these efforts,” says Constable Breeze.

“Now that we’ve started delivering this [program to the TPS], officers are trained on what to expect – and the trauma team staff knows what we need to do our job,” says Constable Breeze. “It benefits all concerned.”