Preparation key in preventing fatalities at Texas nursing home hit by a tornado

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Preparation key in preventing fatalities at Texas nursing home hit by a tornado
Preparation key in preventing fatalities at Texas nursing home hit by a tornado
The lack of major injuries or fatalities at a Texas nursing home during a deadly tornado Tuesday reflects the hours spent preparing for such an event, officials said.

Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Arlington, TX, had a 10-minute warning that a tornado was headed straight for it. Mark McKenzie, president of the facility's operator, Senior Care Centers, told McKnight's that once staff learned a tornado was imminent they were able to get nearly all of the facility's 131 residents out of their rooms and into the building's hallway.  The entire 30-bed rehab wing crumbled, but only two residents were sent to the hospital with minor injuries. Video can be seen here.

McKenzie was there within an hour of the tornado, and was told that staff responded exactly as they had been trained. The storm happened to strike during a shift change, so more employees were in the building than usual, he added. Once the storm passed, employees who weren't scheduled to work that day showed up to help their colleagues evacuate all the residents to other nearby facilities.

“People get frustrated by having multiple fire and tornado drills, but you have to practice your reactions to these events,” McKenzie said.

For example, in one part of the building where residents and staff were huddled in the hallways, the pressure of the storm blew the heads off of the overhead sprinklers, getting everyone wet and flooding the hallways.

“Yet nobody panicked. As mundane as training and constantly talking about how we respond is, it's what we're supposed to do,” McKenzie said.

A Joplin, MO tornado last year caused the deaths of 10 nursing home residents and an employee while an earlier tornado in Alabama killed several assisted living residents.

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