Accreditation

Q&A: Smoke, flames, and wildfires

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, January 1, 2019

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Briefings on Accreditation and Quality.

In November 2018 California suffered its deadliest wildfire in history, the Camp Fire. This single fire killed dozens of people, destroyed 10,500 homes, and burned an area the size of Chicago. Two weeks after the initial blaze began, roughly 1,000 people were believed still missing, and authorities were saying the fire wasn’t done burning yet.

During these fires, many healthcare workers stepped up to take care of patients before escaping the flames themselves. One nurse helped evacuate patients from a hospital before attempting to drive himself and two colleagues out of the fire zone, ending up back at the hospital. The director of admissions at a nursing home in Paradise, California, helped evacuate 91 patients—many of them with dementia or recovering from strokes—before driving through flames to safety with three residents in her car.

Even when such fires burn out, the reprieve is expected to be short. As climate change raises temperatures and brings more droughts to the West Coast, wildfires are expected to become more frequent and dangerous.

San Diego County has been spared from this year’s fires, says Sharon Carlson, RN, director of emergency preparedness at Sharp HealthCare. But that’s not to say they aren’t familiar with wildfire.

In 2007, San Diego County had a huge wildfire that forced several hospitals, nursing homes, and behavioral health hospitals to evacuate. Sharp HealthCare was one of the hospital systems to take in some of those patients at that time. And the area suffered from a devastating wildfire in 2003, the Cedar Fire.

BOAQ spoke with Carlson about lessons learned from their previous brushes with wildfire, and how her healthcare system is preparing for the next one.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Briefings on Accreditation and Quality.

Most Popular