Willows Estate ‘leading the way’ in LTC fire safety: CYFS captain

RN Christine Quizon is seen here preparing to evacuate a staff volunteer during Willows Estate's Feb. 28 fire drill.

RN Christine Quizon is seen here preparing to evacuate a staff volunteer during Willows Estate’s Feb. 28 fire drill.

Team’s top-notch preparedness evacuates second floor in 26 minutes during drill

Monday, March 3, 2014 — Deron Hamel

AURORA, Ont. – Central York Fire Services (CYFS) fire prevention officer Capt. Ryan Schell says the success of Willows Estate’s Feb. 28 evacuation drill shows the home is “leading the way” in fire safety in the region’s long-term care homes.

Schell is referring to the fact the Aurora long-term care home’s fire safety team was able to evacuate 42 staff and resident volunteers from rooms on the second floor and down a flight of stairs in only 26 minutes.

“That’s unheard of,” Schell tells the OMNIway, moments after the drill was complete. “Not only did they do it in a timely manner, I think they’re leading the way. . . . When it comes to evacuating people, these guys are at the top of their game.”

Rooms were evacuated in about 90 seconds each. The fire zone was evacuated in 10 minutes. Schell says these times “well exceed” provincial fire safety standards.

Prior to the evacuation drill, the home’s fire safety team spent two weeks preparing for it. Schell commends team members for their effort.

“The fire safety team here at the Willows went above and beyond,” he says.

This is the first time the Willows team has performed a “vertical evacuation” down a stairwell. It’s also the first time the Willows used Evacusleds during a fire safety drill.

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.

The home recently bought 12 of these state-of-the-art emergency devices.

CYFS personnel are so impressed with how quickly people were evacuated they’ve borrowed one of the Evacusleds from Willows Estate for a month to use in demonstrations.

Most fires happen between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. With this in mind, Willows Estate simulated a night shift, with six staff members on hand to perform the drill. Night charge nurse and fire safety team member Lesley Noordhuis says she and other participants were anxious ahead of the drill, but when the time came, everyone jumped into their roles seamlessly.

“As long as everyone works together as a team, it will go smoothly — and what we did today just proves that,” she says

Stay tuned to the OMNIway for Part 2 of this story: CYFS Using Willows Example for Training

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