Montreal

Holding fire drill at seniors' home no easy feat

Carrying out a fire drill in a seniors' home requires patience and planning. Here's how Manoir St-Claude in Laval handles it.

Evacuating elderly residents from their long-term care home in just 11 minutes requires everyone on board

Tami Binyamini checks in with the residents of Manoir St-Claude after holding a fire drill. (Radio-Canada)

For Tami Binyamini, executing a fire drill for the residents of Manoir St-Claude in Laval requires patience and planning. 

The private residence for semi-autonomous seniors is small, with just 23 rooms — even so, ensuring all residents are out of the building in 11 minutes in the case of a fire requires some practice.

While members of the local fire station group outside, Binyamini goes room to room, to inform the seniors that a fire drill is about to take place. She reminds them of the procedure and where to go if the alarm goes off.

Staff members whose job it is to help the residents put on reflective vests to identify themselves clearly.

Firefighters do checks throughout the residences to see if sprinklers and smoke detectors are installed.

They also time how long it takes to get everyone safely out of the building.

Binyamini is in constant motion. She goes door to door, to ensure the seniors have heard the alarm and are starting to move.

Many residents are hard of hearing or require a wheelchair or walker to get outside, making an evacuation even harder.

It wasn't until Binyamini made it into 90-year-old Peggy Poulin's room, three minutes into the evacuation exercise, that Poulin acknowledged the alarm.

Once a room is empty, Binyamini takes a pillow and places it outside the door as a sign the resident has left.

Meanwhile, other staff members get residents outside and across the street, away from the building.

Finally, a head count is taken to make sure nobody is missing and everybody got out safely.

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