Flames destroyed a Santa Rosa assisted living facility during the disastrous Tubbs fires, which consumed more than 5,500 structures in California’s Sonoma County in October 2017. Evacuating senior residents during an emergency requires planning and quick action. Unfortunately, neither of those occurred, according to a lawsuit filed against the owners of the facility. The lawsuit claims the residents did not get the help they needed from the facility’s staff members to escape from the building and only survived because family members of two of the residents helped as many people get out as they could.
The details of the botched evacuation, as described in the lawsuit, are shocking. Staff members said they didn’t have an evacuation plan. There were only three staff members on duty that night to take care of 70 residents, and all the staff members left while there were still two dozen residents left behind in the building, including 14 residents with dementia who were in a locked unit.
A failure to properly evacuate residents can be fatal. For example, 14 elderly people died in Florida after Hurricane Irma when they were left inside an overheated building for several days. The residents of the Santa Rosa facility were luckier. Thanks to the help of some of the residents’ relatives and a police officer who just happened to be in the area, the residents managed to get out of the building alive. Without that help, many of the residents, who were unable to leave the building by themselves, would have perished.
Sending a Message
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four of the residents, who ranged in age from 82 to 92. The claims include negligence, elder abuse, and infliction of emotional distress. Lawyers representing the residents are working to get justice for their clients and also want to send a message that senior facilities need to have proper evacuation planning and training.
What You Can Do
If you have a loved who lives in a nursing home or other senior facility, ask the facility’s administrators about their evacuation plans. If you are not satisfied with their answers, you can find out what steps you can take by talking to experienced nursing home lawyers. If you ever have any problems with nursing home abuse or negligence, please call Garcia, Artigliere & Medby at (800) 281-8515 for a confidential consultation.