Over 30 years in the Making and still Going Strong
Growing demand for evacuation products is being driven by a combination of two pieces of legislation – The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order of 2005 – which in simple terms, sets out that the Fire Service is no longer obliged to provide a “complete evacuation service” for premises.
Every business and establishment now has to have their own evacuation procedure/s and appropriate equipment in place. Local fire and rescue services also have the right to inspect for compliance and if necessary close premises that are deemed to be in breach of this new legislation, as a worst case scenario.
Changes in the Disability Discrimination Act also now state that everyone has to have the same right of evacuation in an emergency situation and premises that provide care such as hospitals, care homes & hospices are singled out as a particularly “high risk” category to comply with such legislation.
Hospital Aids as a company has been in existence for over 30 years, supplying NHS, private hospitals and care facilities with evacuation devices since the early 80’s.
The company has come a long way since it was started by one lady working out of her garage. The Ski Sheet was just one of those innovative ideas that enabled an industry to grow and develop from it.
The best example of where Hospital Aids products have been successfully used in the past, was at the Royal Marsden Hospital Fire, in London, January 2008, when a complete evacuation of the hospital was required. This included evacuation of the ICU and operating theatres, including one patient who was undergoing extensive surgery.
Staff at the hospital evacuated more than 40 patients from the fourth floor, on their mattresses, using Hospital Aids Ski Sheets. The full evacuation of the hospital was completed in 28 minutes due to fantastic staff teamwork, leadership, pre-planning and the presence of Ski Sheets available under each bed.
Ski Sheets are an ideal solution to mattress evacuation in settings such as hospitals, as they remain in place, attached unobtrusively under the individual’s mattress, at all times, allowing it to be instantly accessed if an evacuation is needed.
In an emergency evacuation the patient’s bed pillows are placed over the patient’s chest, which allows for the straps to be fastened tightly without undue pressure on the chest area. The belts are pulled from the storage pockets (easily located, next to the corner elastic holding the sheet in place.) and fastened over the patient. The straps are then tightened as much as possible, forming the mattress into a ‘U’ shape and cocooning the patient.
The end pulling handles are then accessed from the head and foot end of the sheet and the patient securely cocooned in their mattress is ready to be moved off the bed. There is no need for lifting, the mattress is just controlled and guided the (foot end first) off the bed, whilst gravity does the work. Once on the floor, the patient can be moved to safety through corridors and even down staircases.
The Ski Sheet was the main focus of the company in the early days and several of the other products manufactured under the Hospital Aids banner have evolved from the Ski Sheet. A good example of that would be the Ski Pad – for evacuation where space is limited, such as congested hospital wards and buildings with narrow corridors or single width fire doors which are unsuitable for mattress evacuation. The Ski Pad is now one of their best selling items.
There are many imitations of both the Ski Pad and Ski Sheet on the market, but what makes the ‘Ski’ product range stand out from the rest are the Immi buckles, which are imported from the USA and these are the same quality and strength of buckle that you would find in most cars or aeroplanes. It is the most expensive component of the Ski products and gives them a much higher safe working load then most of the competing products on the market. All of Hospital Aids products also come CE marked.
The basic principal of all of their evacuation product range is to aid carers or designated staff in the progressive movement or total evacuation of patients/service users in the event of a fire or similar emergency. The products provide maximum safety and security for the evacuee and minimal physical strength required on the part of the carers – thus reducing the risk of manual handling injuries.
Hospital Aids has a close working relationship with emergency services and healthcare professionals enabling them to develop new evacuation products – which cater for all types of individuals including patients with special or complex care needs and has enabled recent projects such as the Bariatric EvacMat and the Ski-Slide-Pad to be added to the list of products being produced within their Northampton based factory.
The latest product being produced under the Hospital Aids umbrella is the new EMS Bariatric EvacMat, which has been developed for use exclusively by emergency services and has many additional design features over and above its predecessor the Bariatric EvacMat.