A safe, speedy solution for a Code Green

Bedside technology eases evacuation distress for Ontario hospital

A Code Green alert isn’t heard very often over a hospital intercom, but it calls for a rarely used emergency protocol—a partial or full-scale evacuation.

In September 2004, a construction company hit a gas line on the grounds of southwestern Ontario’s Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital. The Code Green full-scale evacuation propelled staff into action.

“Nursing staff and volunteers were called on to load patients onto sheets, and other impromptu evacuation devices, to carry them safely out of the building. Thankfully, our elevators were still working during the Code Green,” recalls Sue McLean, CEO of the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital Foundation.

The evacuation was particularly difficult for nurses who had to lift patients out of their beds and onto bed sheets, before carrying them down the stairs and out to safety.

“At the time, the hospital didn't have emergency evacuation equipment,” says McLean. "Given the vulnerability of that situation, the hospital purchased an innovative piece of equipment to make evacuations safer and more efficient."

The Evacusled is installed underneath hospital mattresses. In the event of an evacuation, patients remain on their mattresses, the bed is lowered nearly to the floor, and the patient is slid off the bed onto the sled. With 25 embedded wheels, the sleds glide easily down hallways and staircases. And with no need to transfer patients from bed to sled, the Evacusled reduces injury to patient and staff—and allows evacuations to be executed more efficiently.

In the past 10 years, though, patient bed technology gradually made those Evacusleds obsolete. Andrew King, a local firefighter and the hospital's safety officer, identified another solution.

King put McLean in touch with Enbridge’s Ontario-based senior public affairs advisor Ken Hall. King was aware of Enbridge’s Safe Community program, which provides funding to first responders near our pipelines and facilities—and wondered if the newer Evacusled Plus, which meets current technology needs, would fall within the mandate.

“We saw a very good fit for Enbridge to facilitate the prompt and safe evacuation of patients from the hospital,” says Hall. “We’re glad to see this grant will help keep the people of this community safe from harm.”

Enbridge delivered a Safe Community grant of $10,000—and when the funding came through, King was able to source bulk pricing from the Evacusleds supplier.

“Due to the generosity of the manufacturer, who followed in the giving spirit of Enbridge, we were able to stretch the $10,000 to 15 sleds,” says King.

“It appears the good spirit caught on.”