In Linköping a new control centre is being built to coordinate the treatment of burn injury patients on a national scale. But since it is a service that may be activated only occasionally, FOI have been called in to increase the centre’s level of utilisation. The result is a control centre that will also be used for regional medical care management and for national exercises. In the wake of the Gothenburg discotheque fire disaster the decision was taken to introduce national coordination of medical assistance for incidents in which there are large numbers of burn injuries. Partly in order to achieve the optimum distribution of burn victims between the two hospitals – Linköping and Uppsala – that specialise in serious burn injury cases, and partly to identify hospitals in other countries that can accept burn injury victims when the Swedish hospitals are full.
This resulted in the decision to set up a control centre to be located in Linköping where it will be operated by Östergötland County Council. But since serious fire disasters are thankfully rare occurrences, the equipment and facilities of the control centre would not be adequately utilised. It was therefore decided that the control centre would also be used for regional medical care management and as a national training centre. This will not only lead to better utilisation of the equipment and facilities but, because training is carried out at the same location and with the same equipment and technology that would used in a real emergency, it makes it easier for personnel to switch from their everyday work to a crisis management situation.
But conflicts of interest can still arise. What is to be done if a number of incidents occur at the same time? And how quickly can the centre change over to emergency mode if a there should be a disaster while a major exercise is in progress? This is where MSB, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, brought in FOI’s experts with experience from both military and civil command and control centres, not least for their knowledge of how environments can be structured for use in both emergency and training situations while retaining the flexibility to switch rapidly from everyday operation to crisis management mode when required.
“What MSB wanted was primarily method support, how premises, technology and work processes can work together in an optimal way. But we also possess a substantial body of expertise in the creation of exercise environments and in the running of field exercises, as well as a great deal of experience in the area of man-technology interaction, for example the way a pilot interacts with cockpit technology,” explains Susanna Nilsson at FOI.
Susanna Nilsson describes the arrangement of the control centre as “unique”.
This is a control centre that is manned on the basis of need, and so may sometimes stand empty. What we have helped MSB to create is a solution in which all rooms are equipped and arranged to meet every need at all times.