Blaze heroes nominated for glory
8:02am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
THREE carers have been nominated for a prestigious award after their cool thinking helped combat a freak fire at a Barry nursing home.
Registered nurse Tessie Thomas and care assistants Pat Scanlan and Shelley Jones acted when a blaze engulfed a resident’s room at the College Fields home in Barry in April.
The trio fought their way through thick smoke and carried a man in his late eighties to safety and went on to help evacuate the residents of adjacent rooms.
The brave women have been shortlisted as finalists, in the health and safety category, at the Wales Care Awards at Cardiff City Hall on Friday, October 18.
College Fields owner Mike Kemp said the fire - a “one in a million” accident - broke out just before 9pm and was believed to have started when an electric fan heater fell from a unit in the corner of the room, possibly after curtains near the window had brushed it.
The safety trip-switch initially turned off the heater which switched itself back on when it fell awkwardly between the unit and the wall, bursting into flames.
Mike said the alarm system pinpointed the blazing room.
“The staff on duty immediately went into their pre-practised fire procedure. One of them phoned the fire service, others fetched the special "ResQmats", which are specialist emergency mats on which people can be pulled to safety,” he said.
“Tessie and Pat went into the room where the fire had started and others went into the adjacent rooms.
“As the gentleman in the room where they fire was is non-ambulatory he was rolled carefully on to the mat and taken to a pre-arranged safe area elsewhere in the building where other staff members stayed with him and comforted him.
“He was absolutely fine and as calm as could be.”
Firefighters responded in four minutes.
Mike added: “The girls who went into the room to rescue the resident were absolutely brilliant.
“Without their bravery the incident would have resulted in severe problems or even death.”
He praised the other staff assisting the 65 residents who ranged from 45 to 104 years of age.
“Four staff went to hospital to be checked for the effects of smoke inhalation but the girls who went into the room were fine and just carried on with their shifts,” he said.
“I would like to get across how desperately important it is that care providers make sure all their training, upkeep and portable appliance testing is up to date.”
Barry resident Pat Scanlan, 70, said: “I don’t suppose we thought too much of the danger at the time or that we were being brave. All we knew is that we just had to get the resident out of that room. I do think we saved his life.
“Neither of us thought about getting an award for what we did but it’s nice to be nominated for one.”
Graeme Smith, local station officer for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, thanked the home for the “exemplary manner” in which they performed during the fire.
He said: “The staff who evacuated the patients from their rooms in the effected wing acted over and above their role and if it wasn't for their actions the patient would certainly have suffered very serious injuries.”
Care Forum Wales chairman, Mario Kreft said the Wales Care Awards, said: “The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.”