Evacuating Immobile Patients Down Stairs

Recently one of my friends who works at an independent living facility called my attention to the difficulties of private businesses who don’t necessarily have plans for getting frail or immobile patients down flights of stairs (even just one) without an elevator in an emergency. She was expressing frustration for her position because–as an outside contractor–she doesn’t know very much of the facility’s emergency plan or whether they even have one and doesn’t feel like she can tell her employers to get into shape.

Several good resources for individuals AND businesses

First thing: If you’re in a similar position, it’s always ok to ask questions or bring a safety issue–even a hypothetical one–to the fore. If you care for special populations like children, the elderly, or people with other special needs, then you need to know what to do in an emergency–that’s your job. Don’t be afraid to kick some butts over things like this. Because the last thing you want is Grandma suffocating in a house fire because the facility didn’t have a plan.

Second thing: Nursing homes and other facilities are required by law to have some kind of emergency plan. Generally, the evacuation procedures are more fleshed out the sicker the residents. Hospitals, for instance, train regularly and can invest in cool stair wheelchairs (technically called “evacuation chairs”). However, sometimes residents decompensate as they get older or gain weight. Meaning that just because they can live on their own, doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to get down stairs or to get their oxygen etc downstairs. Or they can simply have a surgery that inhibits their mobility. (Hip surgery anyone?)

So here are some links to get you started:

* If you don’t know the state of your business’s preparedness. Take this 10 min Ready Rating self-assessment from the Red Cross. I watched a few businesses in my city go through the process and it wasn’t that painful and SUPER helpful.

* This guide from hcPro is a quick read and gives easy instructions on when to decide to evacuate, how to evacuate, etc.

* Invest in some equipment. Do some research–there’s all sorts of things that are affordable. You’re not stuck with expensive electric chair lifts. Here’s a whole bunch of videos to pique you’re interest:

And I simply can’t resist this 1950s Nurse’s training video. Please NOTE: most instructors will tell you NOT to do these carry’s because you could hurt yourself. This is true–people are a lot heavier today than they used to be. But, I thought it would be interesting to show you some history of evacuation. (Besides, knowledge is power, eh?)

Did you find anything helpful during your research? Share them with the class below!


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