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31 / 08 / 2020

Antwerp hospital group is committed to leaving no one behind in the event of an emergency.

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Evacuation aids can now be found at all kinds of organizations. From schools to hotels and from companies to care centres. Recently the Antwerp hospital group, GZA Hospitals, also implied these precautionary measures. At the end of 2019 and early 2020, a lot of work was done by the internal prevention service of GZA to provide various evacuation means on the 3 campuses of the hospital. This included S-CAPEPOD Evacuation Sheets (Standard Model) and S-CAPEPLUS Evacuation Mattress (Basic Model in green Wall Cover). The evacuation sheets are placed under the mattresses of specific patients. The evacuation mattresses are provided in the stairwells. The introduction of these types of tools often is a long process. Demos take place for various safety managers, there must be practiced with all colleagues and the correct installation locations must be selected.

To discuss the course of the introduction, we spoke to Cindy Kouwijzer. Cindy is a staff member of the cell for prevention, safety & environment and has been closely involved in the introduction of these tools. In the section below she shares her doubts, the experiences, the motives and her opinion about evacuation aids.

“At the end of 2019 and early 2020, we purchased evacuation sheets & mattresses for the various campuses of our hospital group. The evacuation sheets are placed under specific mattresses and the evacuation mattresses are situated in the (emergency) staircases at every floor. At the beginning, I was mainly concerned whether the evacuation sheets, in combination with the alternating mattresses, were not going to be too heavy to manipulate. Nothing could be further from the truth. We ran tests with several colleagues. Even the slightly heavier people went down the stairs smoothly, while the assistance workers involved were rather small and slender. The staff of both the support services and the care sector were a bit concerned whether this would create even more work in their daily tasks; would changing the beds take longer if they had to take that “thing” under their mattress into account? This misunderstanding has now also been resolved.

Furthermore, the evacuation equipment are very simple and obvious to use. As the instructions are laid out step by step on the means themselves you cannot go wrong. People who previously had received an explanation of an exercise started using the equipment without any refreshment and this went without saying. The instructional videos that are made available are an absolute added value. Perhaps a slight point of improvement we could report: the video with the use of the evacuation sheet in combination with an alternating mattress made available in Dutch would be a massive help.

Our people hope that they should never actually have to use the equipment, but the general opinion is that this is an absolute improvement compared to using a regular bed sheet to be able to evacuate less mobile people.

The evacuation mattresses on the administrative services in the stairwells are also top notch. That way, nobody will be put in the position of making the choice whether to leave a less mobile colleague behind.

I often compare evacuation via the stairs with a loaded women’s handbag, instead of it being heavier, it’s surprisingly light and comfortable to use.”

Cindy Kouwijzer – Staff member cell prevention, safety & environment GZA Hospitals – GasthuisZusters Antwerp
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