Fire, Rescue Drill at Nursing Home
Girl Scouts act as patients as Hershey, Pa., volunteers line in, ventilate, search and evacuate wing set aside for training session
Recognizing the potential life hazard in any fire at a nursing home, the Hersey, Pa., Fire Department recently held a fire and evacuation drill at the Alpine Retirement Center in Hershey. To plan the drill, a series of meetings were held between nursing home officials and line officers of the fire department. From the outset it was obvious that both groups realized that close cooperation was important.
In pre-planning for any nursing home fire a variety of unusual problems must be considered. When planning for the Alpine drill, the fire department was faced additionally with a response of about 5 miles to a remote and wooded area of the township. Compounding this long run for apparatus is the fact that the fire alarm is only local and has no connection with the fire department dispatch center. However, all the buildings have had sprinklers installed and there is a good water supply from a 10,000-gallon cistern and a 100,000gallon reservoir.
As the arrangements for the drill proceeded, it was decided that one wing of the building would be set aside as the actual drill area. “Patients” in this section would be local Girl Scouts who would actually be rescued by fire and staff personnel. At the same
time, other staff members would evacuate the residents from the remainder of the complex, using normal procedures. Through this type of drill both the nursing home staff and the fire fighters would be able to familiarize themselves with each other’s duties in evacuation and rescue.
As the drill began, smoke bombs and patients being led from the building by nurses lent a realistic look to the “fireground.” Initial fire fighting and rescue efforts were carried out by the three-man crew of Hershey’s quick response attack truck. Upon arrival, they reported heavy smoke showing, stretched a line for initial fire attack, and donned air masks to begin patient rescue. Engine 48 laid a 3-inch supply line to the scene and advanced l 1/2-inch preconnects backed up by a 2 1/2-inch line. Additional manpower arrived on Rescue 48 and the 3-inch line was picked up and pumped from a hydrant 400 feet from the scene by the second-run pumper. Ventilation was provided by Hershey’s elevating platform which was set up in front of the complex. “Patients” were carried from the building to a first-aid station that was set up by the department’s two ambulances. Overall fire fighting
and rescue efforts were directed by Fire Chief Todd Pagliarulo, with evacuation operations inside the building supervised by Assistant Chief Joseph Long.
Following completion of the drill, a fire extinguisher ciass and demonstration was conducted by Pagliarulo for the nursing home staff. Included was an explanation of various types of fires and which kinds of extinguishers can be most effectively employed. Nurses and aides were given a chance to operate extinguishers and become familiar with each type.
The Alpine is one of many target hazards in the Hershey Fire Department’s area of responsibility. The department is an all-volunteer organization with about 40 active members. It protects an area of 26 square miles and a population of 18,000. Included in this area are Hershey Foods and Reese factories, Hershey Park Amusement Facility, a convention center, Penn State University Medical Center, several apartment complexes, and extensive rural sections. Summer brings a large influx of tourists and an increase in calls. With such a large and varied response, the fire department must be prepared to meet many different types of rural, suburban and urban fires.