Interview with Charles Calimer
Lt. Charles Calimer has nearly 40 years of experience responding to emergencies in his hometown of Galloway, New Jersey. We spoke with Lt. Calimer to gain perspective from the emergency response side on how healthcare facilities can better manage and develop their emergency preparedness programs.
Over the years, he has responded to countless hospital and long-term care emergencies, including floods, fires, and accidents. Lt. Calimer realizes the challenges of working in both volunteer departments, where there are very few resources available during the day, and rural environments, where the response time is much slower for responders to arrive at the scene.
According to Lt. Calimer, a lot of facilities take for granted that emergency responders will be there when desperately needed, unaware that their towns “can’t afford the trucks or the people” to do the job, particularly in rural areas. Many communities do not have full time fire departments and rely on the availability of volunteers for their response. “We are farther ahead training and equipment wise, as well as with the standards we have to meet here than a lot of other areas. We donate our gear to other states because it’s the only gear they will have. We are fortunate with what we have here as opposed to other states. We strive to have the equipment needed for mass evacuations at facilities like hospitals, but other areas may not have the equipment or manpower to handle situations like that.”
Indeed, beyond access to properly prepared emergency responders, there is much that a healthcare organization needs to do to be prepared for a disaster, including meeting the requirements recently issued by CMS to have a fully developed preparedness program, trained staff, and community-wide exercises to test preparedness efforts. With a custom hazard-assessment tool and team of trained experts, Evans Incorporated is ready and willing to help healthcare facilities navigate the complex challenges of developing a robust emergency preparedness program-without letting any detail go unnoticed.
For example, when faced with a fire, does a facility know where their water supply is and how to connect to it? What about the backup to the main water supply, in the event it’s needed for either firefighting or for consumption by patients and staff? What is the full breadth of hazards that might affect your facility? Do emergency responders know their way around your facility? If they have never participated in exercises at your location, chances are- they don’t.
“The best thing a facility can do to be prepared is to have their local responders do walk-throughs on an annual basis to familiarize themselves with your building and the scenarios they might encounter,” said Lt. Calimer. “Most importantly- do them at night. By doing it at night, the responders can familiarize themselves with what the place will look like when it’s dark and smoky. A lot of these healthcare facilities don’t think about that and are really hurting themselves by not doing walk-throughs at night,” Lt. Calimer clarified. “Doing walk-throughs is especially important at long-term care facilities where we experience frequent emergency calls, so the responders know which areas need extra time and care to evacuate.”
Lt. Calimer encourages healthcare facilities to be proactive and coordinate with their fire departments and other first responders, for other emergencies that might occur, like an active shooter, a flood, or a natural disaster that damages a building. Evans Incorporated can help you to plan your response to emergencies such as these as well as to plan and coordinate exercises-at the facility and community level. We can help prepare you and your community responders and ensure your compliance with CMS regulations. To learn more on our suite of solutions, click here.