After a small smoke event at the hospital our Safety Officer reflects on why Littauer’s response was so exemplary
After a Code Red at Nathan Littauer Hospital on December 29, 2011 we sat down with Nathan Littauer’s own Joe Slovack to shed some light on how Nathan Littauer readies for emergencies. Here are a few questions we asked Joe Slovack:
Q: What is your title at Nathan Littauer Hospital?
A: I am the Safety Officer at Nathan Littauer Hospital.
Q: How long have you been employed at Nathan Littauer Hospital?
A: 30 years.
Q: What happened yesterday at Nathan Littauer Hospital?
A: A Code Red (fire) occurred on the 2nd floor of the Hospital at 1PM on 12/29/11. The fire was caused by construction activities that were taking place on the roof at that time. This was a small event that was mostly smoke-related but we did move patients away from the effected areas. Our staff responded quickly and efficiently by closing off areas, pulling alarms, alerting staff, and ultimately moving patients away from the smoke. No patients, staff or firefighters were injured as it was a relatively small event. Everyone did their part and many areas of the hospital were fully operational during the event.
Q: The fire department arrived?
A: Yes, the fire department responded quickly. And thanks to the fast acting staff in the pediatric unit and engineering and housekeeping departments, everything was mostly over by the time they arrived here. The fire department was extremely professional and excellent in their response. The Fire Department issued an ‘all-clear’ in about 40 minutes.
Q: Does this type of thing happen often?
A: Fortunately no.
Q: The fire department was very quick to compliment Nathan Littauer staff about their response. In fact, Beth Whitman-Putnam, Fire Chief of the City of Gloversville Fire Department stated “The Staff of Nathan Littauer Hospital performed an exemplary job of evacuating and isolating the area of alarm in advance of the Fire Department’s arrival.”
A: It was certainly a proud moment for the Hospital to be recognized as doing a good job reacting to an incident like this by fire personnel who do this professionally. That they were impressed with our performance says a lot about the abilities of our staff.
Q: What do you have to do with the response?
A: As the Safety Officer I help train all the employees at Nathan Littauer Hospital in fire safety procedures. Hospital employees receive a tremendous amount of fire and disaster response training: New hospital employees receive fire response training as part of their orientation; All staff wear badges at all times that display fire response instructions on the back; We also have completed one-on-one training with staff in different departments; And additionally, all staff must pass written tests about fire safety yearly. And then of course we have fire drills.
Q: How often do you have drills?
A: Once a month, one shift per quarter. In fact, we had an evacuation fire drill in June of this year that was performed in conjunction with the fire department and the activities were very similar to yesterday’s events.
Q: Why do you think this “event went so well” given the circumstances?
A: As a whole, our staff has many years experience doing what they do. And the practice, skills and knowledge they have gives them the confidence and ability to respond calmly to an emergency situation.
Q: So I guess its back to usual at Littauer?
A: Actually no. We conduct a Post-plan Activation Feedback Request with all managers after every emergency event. It’s a global survey used to review any effects an incident had in each work area. Managers get input from their staff as to what went well, or what could be improved. The responses come back to me and the results are used to assess our overall staff response and preparation, building operation, and the effectiveness of our policies related to the event. That way we can continue to improve our preparedness based on actual hand-on experience. And earning praise from the fire department like we did in this incident proves that it works.
Thanks Joe Slovack Safety Officer!