Friday, October 11, 2013

Brittany Manor Fire Causes Staff, Residents to Put Emergency Training into Action

This is part of a special blog series this week, highlighting AHCA/NCAL members who are “emergency heroes” – going above and beyond the call of duty in the face of natural and man-made disasters.

When an employee ran upstairs and announced that there was smoke in the electrical room, staff members of Brittany Manor, a Ciena Healthcare skilled nursing facility in Midland, Michigan, were prepared. In her role as administrator, Lynne Davis routinely organized fire and disaster drills at Brittany Manor, and carefully trained her staff on emergency procedures. On August 10, 2012, staff members had a chance to put all of their emergency preparation into practice.
Photo by: Ciena Healthcare
After pulling the fire alarm to alert the building’s residents of an emergency, the local fire department arrived and determined that an air-handling unit on the roof was on fire.

“The smoke went south to the basement through the pipes and conduit, which ended up being a blessing because someone noticed,” said Davis. “Water was being poured everywhere, and the Fire Department ordered an evacuation. The staff did everything they were trained to do in the manner that they were trained to do so.”

Davis recalls with great detail that her staff first and foremost followed fire protocol of ensuring that doors were properly closed and residents were out of harm’s way. When the order came, the staff placed residents into wheelchairs and ushered them outside to the parking lot. Once outside, staff transported residents across the street to a juvenile center.

By the time Davis arrived on the scene, she found all of her staff and residents safe and sound, though understandably a bit shaken, outside of the center.

“123 residents were moved to another safe location in under two hours,” Davis explained. “Zero injuries—NOTHING!”

Due to structural damages at the facility, staff understood that they would need to begin relocating residents. Corporate staff began to call residents’ family members to update them on the incident, and some of Brittany Manor’s sister facilities began arriving to help transport residents to new facilities while Brittany Manor was undergoing partial reconstruction.

Davis anticipated her residents’ fears of moving into unfamiliar surroundings, and brainstormed ways to help make their transitions more comfortable. 

“[We] had staff assigned to every building to which residents were transferred so that they didn’t lose touch with home and saw a familiar face,” said Davis.

A few weeks later, Brittany Manor received the green light to begin opening up areas of the repaired building, and residents were slowly transported back home. By then, workers had repaired extensive water damage in the building, though luckily, there was no major smoke or fire damage. Davis reported that several staff members also participated in the building restoration process.

Lessons are often learned through unfortunate events, and the fire at Brittany Manor is no exception. Today, Lynne Davis shares her experiences with others, and is an active member of the Michigan emergency preparedness network.

If you know of an emergency hero you’d like to tell us about, please email

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