Best Evacuation Plan Practices for In-Home Health and Nursing Facilities

If you work in or run an in-patient nursing facility, a nursing home, or even if you are responsible for in-home health care for an elderly or non-ambulatory patient, having a good evacuation plan is a must.

Anything can happen: be prepared for it!

In this day and age, you need to be prepared for just about anything: fire, flooding, earthquakes, electrical outages or systems failures could force you to take immediate action, and since lives are at stake, it’s all the more important to be prepared. With the right equipment, and a solid evacuation plan in place, there is greater potential for you to get the job done without any unnecessary stress or incident.

Developing an emergency evacuation plan

Evacuations are never easy, for any reason. If you need to move individuals who are unconscious, or cannot walk on their own, it’s even more difficult. Additionally, the people you are working with might not be all that cooperative, or may have serious cognitive or psychosocial issues that will prevent them from following even the simplest instructions.

Develop an emergency evacuation plan that is specific to your facility and situation, and review it regularly to make any necessary updates.

Your evacuation plan should include:

  • If you are in a facility, a “special needs” list of those who cannot move on their own, or who have cognitive impairments such as dementia
  • A list of each patient’s medications, and necessities such as eyeglasses or hearing aids that they may need
  • Pre-assess the priority of patients, based on their immediate needs for care and assistance
  • Identify entry and exit routes for all areas of the building or residence**
  • If there are several possible exit routes, designate one for equipment and EMS, and another for evacuation in order to streamline traffic
  • Regular practice drills with your team using various disaster scenarios
  • In your hypothetical disaster scenario, combine two disasters to cover your emergency response to any eventuality (like power outage and flooding, for instance).

**Did you know: evacuation routes are the areas most lacking in disaster planning for the majority of nursing homes? Don’t be caught without a plan: prepare ahead of time for peace of mind!

Having the right equipment is key

Being prepared with the proper equipment will help the evacuation process immensely. In the case of a nursing home, you may be faced with moving a multitude of patients that can’t evacuate on their own, so the faster and more efficiently you can move them, the better.

Stair chairs are an important part of this process, as are having some foldaway stretchers on hand for patients who may be immobile or unconscious. Line2EMS has developed its own line of stair chairs in order to provide solutions to some of the common issues we have seen with stair chair design over the years.

The importance of stair chairs for emergency evacuation

Stair chairs are specifically meant for moving patients up and down flights of stairs easily, and having the right design can make the job that much easier. Our chairs have heavy duty wheels that glide evenly, heavy-duty webbing restraints, EMS quick-release buckles on the restraints, and extending handles on the front and back of the chair for ease of carrying. They fold for easy storage and transport when not in use, and are coated with a high-quality vinyl protective coating for easy clean up and added strength. Line2EMS supplies stair chairs can carry 350 or 400 pounds, depending on the model.

Line2EMS: your partner in fire and emergency medical systems and equipment

In an emergency evacuation situation, adequate foresight and planning will always help, and cool heads will ultimately save the day.

The better prepared you are, the easier it will be – but keep in mind that even the best laid plans are often ineffective if they aren’t put into practice every once in a while. Run drills with your staff, or if you are solely responsible for in-home care, make a list of important information like emergency phone numbers, exit routes and medications, and keep a copy handy in the patient’s room, in the kitchen and beside every exit, along with a flashlight and extra batteries. Keep a stair chair handy by the bed and practice securing your charge into it so you aren’t scrambling in the dark.

If you have any questions or concerns about stair chairs, evacuation equipment or additional questions about developing your disaster evacuation plan, call Line2 EMS today, we’re always ready to help.