Emergency Drills for Fire Safety

Emergency drills need to be performed and documented on a quarterly basis.  Surveyors like to see a variety in your drills and suggest that you perform separate drills for fire safety, CPR, fire extinguisher testing, malignant hyperthermia, and disaster preparedness i.e. earthquake, bomb threat, or bio-terrorism.

Certification or licensure requirement state that you must show proof of documentation that you have contacted your local fire authority or disaster preparedness city official to request to participate in a community wide disaster preparedness drill.  Sometimes it can take months to hear back from these entities to inform you about an upcoming community disaster preparedness meeting.  If you find yourself waiting for a response and you need to get a drill documented in time for your survey just call your local fire marshal and ask to be scheduled for an earthquake drill.  In the state of California you can get a faster response with scheduling an earthquake readiness drill and the fire marshal can get to your facility within a two-week time frame to run the center through the drill. If you live in another state call your local fire authority to schedule your disaster preparedness drill.  They will even provide you with a document stating so.  Just log it away in your fire safety binder.  This shows that you are doing what you can to comply with this condition.

The following is a quick reference to run you through the basic fire safety drill.

In case of a fire the ultimate concern is for the safety of the patients, visitors, employees and professional staff of the surgery center.  If a fire is detected in your facility follow the RACE acronym (Remove-Alarm-Close-Evacuate):

R         REMOVE persons who are in immediate danger of flames/smoke.  Remain calm.  A front office staff member will remain outside to direct emergency personnel to the location of the fire.

A         Activate the ALARM (pull station).  The front office personnel is usually responsible for calling 9-1-1, or otherwise by activation of the pull station the fire alarm monitoring company notifies the fire department.

C         CLOSE all doors in your area to confine the spread of fire and smoke.  Turn off all medical gases and electrical equipment as permitted and leave lights on.  Decisions regarding the provision of medical gases to any patient in the midst of surgery are the responsibility of the attending surgeon.  Piped-in gases will be shut down.

E         Prepare to EVACUATE in a quick and orderly manner using the nearest exit and following your evacuation plan.

It is important to select a designated area outside up to 10-15 feet away from the surgery center or building.  This area will be the meet up place in which you will perform a head count to ensure that everyone was removed safely.  Also denote in your Fire/Evacuation policy each staff member’s role.  If you need to evacuate usually the surgeon, anesthesia provider and RN assist the patient to safety while the scrub tech will shut off medical gases, electrical equipment, and close all doors.  Front office team ensures that the fire department has been called and/or pull station alarm was activated.  Front office staff should also assists visitors and vendors safely out of the building.

For more information I am available for consultation and for service if you need assistance on the surgery center re-accreditation/certification process.  Contact information can be found in the “about me” tab.

Here’s to your success


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