Willows fire-safety team member attests to value of new devices
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 — Deron Hamel
If a fire ever broke out in a long-term care home equipped with Evacusleds, the devices would “save a lot of lives,” says Willows Estate personal support worker (PSW) and fire-safety team member Hayley Barclay.
Barclay spoke to the OMNIway days after the Aurora long-term care home completed its first-ever vertical evacuation — bringing people down flights of stairs — during a fire drill on Feb. 28.
Evacusleds are devices with tiny wheels that fit under bed mattresses. In an emergency, staff members can rush into the rooms of residents who have Evacusleds, lift residents to the floor without getting them out of bed, and pull them across the floor to safety in short order.
“I think the value of the Evacusleds is priceless,” Barclay says, adding the team only had two weeks of training with the devices before the mock evacuation. “The (Evacusleds are) great; they’re easy to use and easy to explain to people.”
Not only did the fire-safety team safely “rescue” 42 resident and staff-member volunteers in an exercise that ran smoothly, they did it in only 26 minutes, a feat Central York Fire Services (CYFS) Capt. Ryan Schell says is “unheard-of.”
“That even blew my mind,” says Barclay of the team’s success. “I didn’t think we would be able to do it in that amount of time.”
Willows Estate is the first long-term care home in the Newmarket-Aurora region that CYFS has seen use Evacusleds, says Schell. Willows Estate recently bought 12 of the devices.
Before the alarm was sounded to start the evacuation, Barclay says she was feeling anxiety, but as soon as the drill began, she was focused and her fire-safety training kicked in. Having the Evacusleds made the exercise run smooth for the team, she adds.
Barclay says she recommends other long-term care homes invest in Evacusleds to enhance resident safety.
Aside from being excellent safety devices, Evacusleds are also comfortable, she adds. Even in the event of an emergency, residents whose beds are fitted with the devices would feel little disruption.
“I’ve been in an Evacusled and you don’t feel a thing, even going down stairs,” Barclay says.
Click here to watch a YouTube video of the evacuation.
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