Emergency disaster drill shapes nursing home preparedness plan


Spartanburg Search and Rescue suited up for a mock disaster at an Upstate nursing home on Thursday.

Drones, bloodhounds, a rescue boat, Spartanburg Search and Rescue pulled out all its equipment to create a mock staging site at Rosecrest Retirement Community, in Inman, during the disaster drill.

“This is a new regulation for nursing homes this year to not only do a disaster drill, that you can do as a tabletop version, but you also have to do a full-scale real-life drill.” Melissa Yetter, Rosecrest Executive Director, told 7News. 

Yetter says the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is now requiring the disaster drill. 

The exercise familiarizes staff members with emergency procedures through hands-on experience. 

By teaming up with Spartanburg County, staff members learn firsthand what resources are readily available.

“Whether it’s someone has walked away from your community. Whether you have a fire. Whether you have to evacuate because of a tornado or a hurricane,” Yetter said. “The more that you do [those] things, it becomes second nature.” 

For Thursday’s mock emergency, 2 staff members aged patients with Dementia that wandered away from the nursing home.

“We’re simulating as though these individuals have been missing now for several hours,” said Spartanburg County Emergency Management Assistant Director Robbie Swofford.

After a quick briefing, Search and Rescue teams along with canines were deployed to find the missing patients.

One patient was found in 6 minutes, but the second took much longer to find.

“The purpose is that the faster you find someone, the safer they are going to be,” Yetter said.

After the drill was over, suggestions were made to improve the current emergency response plan at Rosecrest Retirement Community.

“Of course, every year we will continue to hopefully [do] more exercises and revise it as need be,” Swofford told 7News.

Everything that was learned during the drill will be implemented at other retirement homes in Spartanburg County.

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