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Hospital Fire Damage Preparedness and Education
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Hospital fires pose a considerable risk due in large part to the size of the facility involved as well as the inability of many of the residents to move quickly under their own power, if at all. Without proper planning and evacuation procedures, it is entirely possible for a hospital fire to result in numerous injuries or fatalities. It therefore becomes important to be adequately prepared and ready to confront any unexpected blaze that may occur.
As with any fire preparedness plan, education is the key. The more people know about the threat that fires pose to hospitals and other medical facilities, the better they will be able to respond in the unlikely event of an emergency. Fire safety education programs targeted toward health care facilities are available and can be modified to fit individual situations. Most hospitals base their fire safety curriculum around the acronym RACE, which stands for Rescue, Alarm, Confine, and Extinguish.
What RACE Means
Rescue includes the assistance of those who may not be able to evacuate on their own, moving them from the danger zone into an area of safety. This may involve a large number of people, especially if the fire breaks out in or near the Intensive Care Unit or other specialized care areas. All employees should be aware of the drill and know what patients they are responsible for.
Alarm means exactly what it sounds like, the sounding of a signal indicating fire or even through the vocal transmission of fire-related info from person to person. The alarm plan must include fire department notification within the first few minutes, as those early decisions may mean the difference between life and death.
Confining the fire is the third step in the process and may involve proactive steps designed to contain or at least hold back the fire until the fire department can arrive. It may also involve the closing and sealing of doors as personnel finish moving through them in an attempt to prevent the fire from spreading.
Extinguishing the fire is the next step through the use of fire extinguishers designed to help hold back the spread of the fire until fire fighters can arrive if this can be done so safely. Staff members should be familiar with the location of all fire extinguishers and properly trained in their use. Fire extinguishers should be inspected once or twice a year and kept in good operating condition.
At least one person per shift per department should be assigned as the fire department liaison, responsible for calling in any emergency that may arise. They will also be the one to inform arriving fire departments of the location of the blaze, if anyone is unaccounted for, etc. Through proper education and preparation, hospital fire damage may be averted or minimized.
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