Otterson was one of 55 people evacuated from two sections of the Mira Long Term Care Facility in Truro on Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, the event was only a mock situation, a training exercise that is required every three years.
Otterson, 20, of Onslow Mountain, was one of 51 local students who participated in the event, along with four Mira residents and daytime staff.
“It was efficient and there was a lot of good team work and communication. It makes me feel good to be a part of it and to know they know how to keep (residents) safe,” said Otterson, a Nova Scotia Community College Truro campus student who is in the continuing care assistant (CCA) program.
The mock emergency scene was a truck that overturned nearby and caught fire, resulting in the evacuation. Residents were made aware of the exercise in advance and at 1 p.m. a code green rang through the loud speaker system three times indicating the exercise had begun.
About 25 staff members immediately assisted the
“residents” to another “safe zone” within the building. It took about 15 minutes to complete and more than a dozen community members, including Truro police, EMO and Red Cross, oversaw the exercise.
“This is a good thing because if it happened (for real) it could confuse the residents so it’s good to know how to deal with it so they don’t go into panic mode,” said 19-year-old Taylor Adams of Masstown, who is also a CCA student at the local community college.
The students were impressed at how effectively and realistically the exercise was carried out. Staff spoke to the “residents” telling them what was happening, as they would in a real scenario. Staff spoke clearly, communicated with handheld radios and kept a hands-on approach with everyone involved.
Lynn Smith, administrator of the Mira, said the exercise should offer a sense of security to staff, residents and residents’ loved ones.
“The families probably feel safer knowing we go through this (exercise) and are prepared for emergency situations, whatever they are,” said Smith.
The facility has also had mock emergencies depicting a bomb scare and hostage situation in past exercises.
Randy MacKenzie, staff sergeant with the Truro Police Service, said the event also offered the opportunity for community members to network and form partnerships.
“It shows we care and are concerned for people and businesses in the community,” MacKenzie said.