If I say the word “emergency”, probably one of the first thoughts in your mind is “9-1-1”. Since we were young, we were taught the universal phone number to call in case of an emergency. When I was 5 years old, it was simple: witness an emergency – call 9-1-1.
In this day and age, especially in Assisted Living, it seems that it isn’t that simple. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to responding to an emergency with residents in Assisted Living: DNR and/or POLST forms, physician’s orders, Community policies and procedures, family provisions, etc. With so many factors, legal and otherwise, in play, there may be confusion regarding proper response in an emergency situation.
The basic process of thought is this: when in doubt, call 9-1-1. It is important to relay this message to all of the staff in your Communities. Medical emergencies, fires, resident falls – whatever the situation may be – when in doubt, call 9-1-1. Family members may request to call them first before dialing 9-1-1, however it is important to reach out to emergency response personnel before contacting family members.
You should instill in your staff the tools and confidence to utilize 9-1-1 when an emergency occurs. Make sure they know where the nearest phone is in each room and on each floor. Time is of the essence, and each second lost while searching for a phone could lead to more severe consequences for the resident.
Your goal is to have the safest environment for your residents and to have staff that will respond quickly and effectively to any possible emergency. Training and equipping your staff can prevent emergencies as well as help minimize harmful consequences in your Community.