Care homes, as with hospices, hospitals and hotels, must take adequate precautions to protect its residents, visitors and staff from the risk of fire (or any other substantial risk to life). This is sadly all to evident, with a simple internet search that highlights dozens of fires within UK care homes alone, and a substantial loss of life.
One of issues often highlighted by care home and hospices, especially those in remote areas, is the theoretical response time by the emergency services in the event of a fire. Many care homes therefore invest significant time in training their staff how to commence the evacuation of bedrooms in an emergency scenario. This subject, and its regulatory, social, ethical, practical and financial implications can be reviewed in detail at various web sites such as the HSE’s Health & Safety in Care Homes
And the UK governments fire safety and evacuation plans.
Having spoken with numerous care home owners, fire officers and regulatory agencies, Squirrel Medical® agrees that considerable attention must be made to the bed as this is where the resident typically resides. In the event of an emergency; the objective would be the rapid and safe evacuation of residents without injury to staff.
One device that can I improve the efficiency of an evacuation from a care home is a fire and evacuation sheet or sledge. A fire and evacuation sledge typically fits to the bedroom wall in a small container. In the event of an emergency; the sledge can be rolled out onto the floor. The patient lifted onto it and the quickly fastened into place. The sledge will usually have a slippery low friction base that will allow one or two persons to drag the sleigh with the resident on board to safety. A second option fits underneath the static foam or active (alternating) air mattress. In this case the mattress (if static) is disconnected from the pump and lifted to the floor. The fire and evacuation sheet also has straps that will secure the patient in place whilst the entire mattress is dragged through the corridor. Most fire and evacuation sledges also have pulling straps at each end. These can be used to lower patients down stairs. Most fire and evacuation sledges also have pockets for the patient’s feet. This should stop the patient from sliding out when being lowered down stairs.
Squirrel Medical® recommends that all care homes, hospices, home care agencies and hospitals to conduct the appropriate risk assessment and training in order to reduce the risk in event of a fire or emergency evacuation.