A captain to lead the MUHC during emergency situations
To mark National Emergency Preparedness Week, we are shining a light on Louise-Julie Brassard, coordinator of Emergency measures and security services at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). It is her job to ensure the MUHC is prepared for any type of emergency, ranging from chemical spills to events requiring the hospital to care for multiple patients in critical condition at once.
“Emergency preparedness requires that everyone knows what to do in possible situations; it requires a team effort,” says Louise-Julie. Throughout the pandemic, she has coordinated the Centre de coordination des mesures d'urgence (CCMU), the group of hospital administrators that decides on emergency measures during a time of crisis. At one point, they were meeting twice daily, even on weekends.
“Each person who attends the CCMU meeting is responsible for ensuring their sector is taking the right measures to properly handle the pandemic or any other event,” she explains.
For the last 25 years, Louise-Julie has worked, among others, as a coordinator with the Canadian Red Cross, in disaster relief efforts and in emergency measures with Urgences-santé. She was at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks in New York City and in Lac Megantic after the train explosion. More recently, she coordinated the welcome centre for Syrian refugees.
When looking back on all the experience she has gained in coordinating emergency measures, Louise-Julie draws a parallel between the welcome centre for Syrian refugees and the COVID-19 vaccination clinic. “In both situations, although different, I get the sense that we are reuniting families.”
Unlike disasters that unfold within hours, a pandemic is particular in that it lasts months, and the typical stages of an emergency, which are prevention, preparation, intervention, and recovery, are not followed in a linear fashion.
“In order to respond to the current pandemic, the measures taken have oscillated between the various stages,” Louise-Julie explains. “However, with the arrival of the vaccine, we can finally say that we are now entering the recovery stage!”