Retirement Home Prepares for Emergency

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In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, emergency preparedness is becoming a top priority. Tuesday officials with the Kentucky Department for Public Health were in Bowling Green. They hosted an informational workshop on how to reach out to special populations during public health emergencies or other disasters.

Those special populations include the deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually-impaired, non-native English speaking individuals, Individuals with low literacy levels, residents of remote rural areas and the elderly.

WBKO's Ashley Davidson visited one assisted living community to find out what kind of precautions they take in the event of an emergency.

"I think the most important thing for reassurance for us, with our residents, is to make sure we practice."

Melissa Kincaid is the administrator of Morningside Assisted Living. She says making sure the residents there know the procedure for emergencies is her biggest priority.

Kincaid says: "In the event, say for instance, we have a tornado warning we know we need to prepare the residents in a way to keep them safe. So what we'll do is draw them all to the inside of the building."

With the recent hurricanes in the south the importance of having a plan in place that the residents know is essential. Morningside has a COWS alert system at the front desk to alert them anytime there is severe weather in the area. They also have monthly fire drills.

Kincaid says: "We want to make sure our residents know where to go because we do have fire doors that will close. And we also have several exits so we want to prepare them where to go in the event of a fire as well as train the staff to evacuate the residents properly."
She says residents that may have difficulty understanding or have disabilities are the first ones they check on when they are helping the residents out of the building. Kincaid also says the staff focuses on keeping the residents calm to ensure a safe evacuation, and practice makes perfect.

Kincaid says: "Our hope is that in the event that we do have a fire or some kind of disaster occur here in Bowling Green at our building, that they will just know what they need to do."

Morningside has a van that can hold eight people, but Kincaid says they do not have an evacuation plan at this time. She adds that they are working on one and looking into ways local hospitals can aide if the need to evacuate ever happens here.