Fire forces evacuation at the Children’s Hospital

Publish date: Monday, March 11, 2013

Kim Fraser was working the night shift on the Paediatric ICU at the Children’s Hospital when a code yellow was announced. 

A few minutes later, a code red was announced. There was a fire. They needed to evacuate more than 100 patients, of which 92 were from intensive care.

“It was surreal. I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years and I have never experienced  a fire,” she said. “We smelt smoke and knew that this was the real thing.”

Fraser said that nurses have fire extinguisher training and are familiar with the policies in the fire manual.

“The policy manual dictates where to go in the event we need to be evacuated,” she said. “We started to get the patients ready for evacuation when about 10 staff from the adult ICU ran over and said we’re here to help. Tell us what you need. We were  so grateful.”

The patients were moved to different areas of the hospital with their care teams.  No one was injured.“People often ask if I was scared or panicked. I didn’t have time to panic,” she said. “The patients were the priority. We didn’t know how long we’d be evacuated for, so we prioritized care.”

By 6 a.m., the hospital was given the all-clear to resume business as usual after air quality tests revealed no smoke particulates or carbon monoxide. By noon, the last patient was returned to their unit.

“The first thing I said to my manager when we returned was that there are lessons to be learned here,” she said. “Everything worked out, no one was injured but this presents an opportunity to review our policies and to make sure that they are as  safe as can be.”

The fire which started around 11:30 p.m. in an area of the under-construction diagnostic building, next to the Children’s Hospital also impacted portions of the Health Sciences Centre’s Ann Thomas Building.

The seven-storey building is scheduled to open next spring and will include a new pediatric MRI, new operating room angiography suite and several other units.

There will also be a heliport on the roof to transfer patients directly to Health Sciences Centre instead of to the airport and then by ground ambulance.The cause of the fire is not known.

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