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Designing a hospital evacuation plan for staff and patients

Jan 12, 2020

Hospitals are not like other facilities, and therefore require specialist emergency evacuation plans.

Supporting hospital patients in evacuation procedures requires incredibility detailed and careful preparation – all the way from planning, to implementation and testing. The variety of different special needs of hospital patients must be considered and planned for in every step as some individuals may require personalised evacuation plans. Here are some key tips to help you create a safer emergency evacuation plan for a hospital.

 

Crucial considerations, according to the World Health Organisation:

  • A full evacuation of a hospital should be a last resort. Always mitigate risks and employ all emergency response efforts to maintain a safe care environment to avoid a total evacuation in the first place
  • Hospital staff should not sit and wait for top-down commands in an emergency – they should have a strong idea of what needs to happen from the get-go
  • Each hospital unit should be self-sufficient. Units require their own unique emergency procedures. These must be planned prior, and enforced at the time of emergency
  • Keep the procedures simple. The simpler the plan, the easier it will be for staff and patients to follow
  • Flexibility is crucial. Your procedures must be able to adapt to a variety of situations and individual needs
  • Transporting patients via EMS and other vehicles should be avoided, as these cause risks, time delays and inefficiency, when there are large numbers of patients involved. Instead, patients should be brought to meet vehicles in rapid staging areas
  • Never take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Emergencies come with different kinds of risks and dangers. While a fire might require immediate evacuation, a dangerous person on the premises might require lockdown. It’s crucial to establish a strategy for each scenario and to include priorities that go with each.

 

Creating an emergency plan

Your emergency plan must include:

  • Clear instructions to guide each member of staff in each kind of emergency
  • The locations of fire equipment, all evacuation and meeting points
  • Highly accessible evacuation diagrams displayed in clear and visible positions.

 

Know your legal obligations 

In Australia, it’s the legal responsibility of the PCBU (Persons Conducting Business or Undertakings) to ensure that all people on the premises are carefully accounted for in an emergency. You can read more about this here.

 

Training is key

Training your staff is crucial. After all, there’s not much point in having a fantastic emergency evacuation plan if nobody knows how to use it. While many hospital staff have the benefit of being well-trained in first aid, they must also know how to operate fire equipment and to know the emergency procedures back to front.

 

Test your procedures

Emergency drills are very useful. They help reduce panic and ensure any future true emergency evacuations are carried out flawlessly. They also help you weed out any parts of your evacuation plan that are ineffective so you can continue to improve processes even further.

 

Have excellent evacuation diagrams

In accordance with Australian Safety Standards, your diagrams must display:

  • The Floor Plan and Site Plan of the facility, its Assembly Point and its Emergency Procedures
  • The nearest exit from the marked “You are here” point
  • The location of the nearest fire equipment

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs)

A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is an evacuation plan created for individuals who may be unable to follow the general emergency evacuation plan due to disabilities affecting mobility, sight, hearing or cognitive ability. This also includes hospital patients with short term injuries like a broken leg, temporary medical conditions and pregnancy.

If you’re unsure whether a PEEP is necessary for an individual, you should ask: “are you confident in the person’s ability to evacuate the building safely and promptly during an emergency?” If the answer is “no”, a PEEP is likely required. Learn more about what’s involved in designing a PEEP.

 

Further resources

 

Not sure how to build an evacuation plan for a hospital? Fire Block Plans is here to help you and your team. Our highly-qualified experts will help find a suitable emergency evacuation plan, no matter how unique your requirements may be. Contact us today for more information.