Practicing Emergency Safety Evacuations

posted in: SeniorAdventure

During the month of August, our seniors participated in a series of evacuation drills. This was inspired by the emergency preparedness training that King County provided in the wake of the COVID pandemic. During the peak times of dining and programming, our building could easily have over 65 persons of various backgrounds and languages. In addition to this, our seniors are of different ages and abilities. Overcoming these challenges would require us to utilize our entire team, from kitchen staff to social workers, and even get assistance from our Program Ambassadors.

We developed a plan that was inspired by the grade school evacuation drills of our youth. The main room at the Center, where all of our activities take place, would be divided into two lines that would form on the east and west side. Following the instruction of our social service team and Program Ambassadors, seniors would exit the building via the corresponding east and west doors in an orderly fashion. Our kitchen team would exit through the back kitchen door and meet the seniors on the outside of the building, assisting them down the exterior stairs and directing them to the planned meeting space. SPSC staff would follow, ensuring that all seniors were able to make it out, while checking the bathrooms, conference room, and office. Once at the designated meeting place, we take attendance based off the reservation list used for the evening.

During the weeks we executed the drills, our team was pleasantly surprised with how our seniors responded! To them, it was a fun activity! Seemingly automatic, several fell into roles to support other seniors of lesser mobility. It was amazing how quickly the whole building was vacated. Since our seniors were so excited by the “activity,” the toughest aspect was getting everyone lined up to complete a head count. Once the head count was completed, and participants were verified, we concluded the drill and returned to evening entertainment in the building.

Even with the success of our preliminary drills, we will continue to train for building evacuations, hopefully working out any unforeseen issues and building a muscle memory for our seniors, making it safer should an actual emergency arise.