Hot Summer Day: A Nursing Home Story
One afternoon on a hot summer day while working the lock down unit I’m at my desk, busy with that day’s paperwork, I happen to see a kinda haze down the hall. I stand up and start looking at others that work there with a puzzled look on my face. “Y’all don’t see that?” One CNA looks at me and says “see what?” Not thinking about it I then start to smell something. And the haze is not just a haze. Then it hit me ‘Oh shit! There’s a fire.’
Not knowing where the fire was, I screamed, “Hit the fire alarm!” pointing at my aides. “Get everyone outside now, through the living room!” I had two CNA’s that day and someone that did activities with the residents. We all started hustling. We rounded people up and got a head count as we went. Everyone is accounted for and checked off my list.
The unit had a fenced in yard that was just outside the living room door. It wasn’t very large, and there weren’t any trees or shade. The haze was a full blown cloud of smoke by that time and the fire alarm sounds. Which was agitating some of my residents. We corralled all of the residents toward the living room. And I could see fire fighters down the hall.
Somehow we got all of our people in that little yard that wasn’t bigger than a one car garage. Then someone from upper management finally came to the unit and said, “the fire is out, started in the kitchen, and it’s going to be a little while. The fire fighters have to do their job, so sit tight, they will let you know when it’s safe to return inside.” What a relief.
The kitchen was next door to the locked unit where I was working. So I now had 25 residents and 3 employees sitting outside in the sun and that yard is full of wheelchairs. I tell one of my CNA’S to go get the refreshment cart that was just inside the door. We start handing out drinks to first keep them calm and secondly keep them hydrated. It’s probably 98 degrees outside and most of these residents haven’t been outside in a while, and with no shade, it was brutal.
So if the fire wasn’t gonna hurt us the Sun was gonna burn us. We were out there probably 30-40 minutes before the firemen let us back in the building. I swear if they had made us stay out there much longer they were gonna have to call the EMT’s also, because we were gonna start dropping like flies. Just another day in long-term care. Now I have sunburns, dehydration, and family members that I need to deal with. I’m just grateful that no one was hurt.
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