Fire Safety Important to Long Term Care Facilities

JONESBORO (KAIT) Many of us have relatives or friends in Long-Term care facilities. Are they prepared for a disaster such as the fire that killed one resident on Tuesday here in Jonesboro.

I asked Janis Demott and Rebecca Martin, residents of the Jonesboro Health Care Center if they felt safe in their facility.

Demott, "Yes I do, we have fire drills and they check the equipment all the time so I feel very safe."

Martin, "We're safe here and the staff is taking care of us so we've got the alarms and equipment to let us know there's a fire. And they keep it up to date."

As a matter of fact they have an alarm right outside their door as does every resident. In the newer part of the building they also have a sprinkler system although the older part does not. According to federal law all resident homes will be required to have a sprinkler system by 2013.

Susie Bickham the Director of Social Services at the center explained how their employees are trained for a fire emergency.

Bickham, "We have fire drills quarterly, whenever we have a new staff member they are automatically put through the drill, taught how to use the fire extinguishers and how to safely search rooms for the cause of fires and how to evacuate patients."

Since the center has so many patients that may not be able to walk fast enough to save themselves they make sure they have plenty of wheelchairs to evacuate the residents.

Bickham, "Anything that will assist in getting the residents out as soon as possible. We are ready, we are prepared."

And it's those kinds of preparations that will help keep their residents alive.