Fire Drill: An annual endeavour

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10 April 2019 – According to the Hospital Performance Indicator for Accountability (HPIA), Fire Drill should be conducted at least once a year. Considering that Sarawak General Hospital is a big, tertiary centre, we usually conduct a drill which is focused on selected areas, instead of the entire hospital. Moreover, drills are challenging in a service-based institution where patient care and services may be disrupted or compromised during such a training session.

This year’s Fire Drill was targeted at Warisan Block, or commonly known as the Old JKNS Block because it previously housed the State Health Department. In fact, this iconic building used to the main hospital building back in the 1930s or so. Currently, Warisan Block is housing mainly administrative units, the library and several clinics such as Psychiatric Clinic, Rehab Clinic and Staff Clinic.

This year’s drill has been kept low as we wanted to have a surprise factor to the occupants in the building. Aside from clinical services which are exempted, every occupant is expected to evacuate. The drill starts at 8:57am in the library where a staff is given an injection of scenario of a fire in the library’s toilet.

Caught in surprise, a staff ‘encounters’ fire and has to act accordingly

After a few glitches, she manages to inform the telephone operator and her superior. Her superior, who happens to be a seasoned Emergency Response Team member, is swift to alert the security guard stationed at the lobby of the building. He then announces evacuation as the “fire” has gotten bigger and uncontrolled.

“Chaos” in the library

Evacuation is initiated at 9:03 am, just about 5 minutes after the “fire” is discovered. The security guard goes around alerting nearby units for evacuation. At the same time, the telephone operators also do their part in calling all units in the building to alert them about the “fire”.

Occupants gathering at the assembly point

The “chaos” continues on as more and more filled the assembly point. Some are clueless, some look pretty bored and they are others who try to escape by walking off. The situation gets more controlled when the Incident Commander and his assistant arrive at the scene. Alongside Incident Officer, they begin to organise the crowd and attempt to get a headcount.

From left to right: Incident Commander, his assistant and the Incident Officer

The Stand Down is finally announced at 9:20 am when the organisers deem that the response has been satisfactory. A post-mortem session follows immediately at the meeting room to conclude today’s activity.

During post-mortem, the aim of the drill is explained, ie to test evacuation. Pertinent lessons are also learnt this time around. Participants have fruitful discussion about how to keep track of the occupants in the building at all time, effective ways of performing Fire and Floor Warden roles and the importance of informing all units within the building. During this drill, one section, which is the Pharmacy Enforcement Unit has been left out. The post-mortem also creates an opportunity for the occupants of the building to identify their locations on the floor plan which has not been updated for a long time. At the end of the day, they are reminded to update their respective unit’s emergency response plan and be aware of their roles when it comes to facing disasters such as fire.

Post-mortem session after the drill

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