Disasters, like deadly fires, can strike at any time at skilled nursing buildings. That was the beauty in staff members at a Missouri nursing home recently having an opportunity to work with local first responders on how to better handle such situations. 

The Maple Lawn Nursing Home, a 140-bed skilled nursing facility in Palmyra, MO, held disaster training for staff members Monday. Staff typically train each month on disaster and emergency preparedness, but this was the first time they got to train directly with first responders. 

“One of the reasons we do this is to ensure our residents, family and staff are safe. This way people in the community know we’re serious about this,” Support Services Director Ron Kraft told McKnight’s. “We’re serious about protecting their families and our residents.”

The facility invited the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Ambulance District and the city’s police and fire departments to help conduct and run the training event. 

The training ran through a scenario where a fire broke out in the facility’s furnace room and extended to residents’ living areas. Staff members were able to run through evacuation procedures and work with first responders on how to help residents stuck or hurt in that situation. 

“(Staff members) learn how to work the command system, they learn how to talk to each other, how to talk to the fire department (during a traumatic situation),” Kraft said. 

He said he hopes the facility and nursing staff can conduct similar training events with local first responders at least once a year. 

Administrator Jeff Funkenbusch said the training scenario helps teach staff how to stay calm during an emergency, which in-turn spreads to residents. 

“The more you practice, the better they know what is going to happen and what could happen,” Funkenbusch told McKnight’s. “They’ll stay relaxed and that’s what residents feed off of.”