Mount Sinai and the FDNY Host Hospital Fire Safety Conference

Hospital and fire department leaders were on hand to discuss best practices for preparedness and response to a hospital fire.

New York, NY
 – January 11, 2011 /Press Release/  –– 

A Hospital Fire Safety Conference, co-hosted December 13 at Mount Sinai by The Mount Sinai Hospital and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), drew over 450 participants from 23 states and provided a forum for hospital and fire department leaders to discuss issues related to hospital fires and best practices for preparedness and response.

Wayne Keathley, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Mount Sinai Hospital, and Salvatore J. Cassano, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, gave opening remarks. "Both the medical profession and the fire service are in the business of saving lives, and by working together we can better understand challenges we all face in keeping our most vulnerable citizens and the professionals who treat them safe from the dangers of fire," said Commissioner Cassano. "This conference is a first step in a process that will result in better communication and strengthened operations and preparedness, both on the fire side and on the hospital side."

Panel discussions focused on lessons learned and best practices for hospital fires. Panel participants included FDNY chiefs, Mount Sinai vice presidents and physicians, and representatives of Great New York Hospital Association, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These leaders addressed incident command, response to hospital fires, roles of physicians, nurses, medical students and other employees during a fire, standards and regulations, evacuation, resources, and recovery efforts.

The day-long event also featured guest speakers from London who presented on hospital fires in the United Kingdom. The international speakers included Andy Wapling, Head of Emergency Preparedness; Gary Donald, Fire and Rescue Liaison Officer at the Department of Health Services; and John Bradbury, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade. They discussed their response to hospital fires and the challenges staff and fire companies faced during and after the events.

"This was an excellent opportunity for us to not only share our experiences, but to also learn from the New York system. Many of the challenges present in a hospital fire are common and an environment to share these and the solutions adopted can only be a good thing," said Mr. Wapling. "Hospitals are seen as a safe place to go when people are in need; however, they are not immune from disruptive challenges and disaster. It is right, therefore, that much planning is undertaken to ensure a safe and swift response."

The conference planning committee will use the feedback of attendees and lessons learned from the various speakers to create recommendations for best practices and standards for preparedness and response.

"A physician's first duty is to ‘do no harm’ and our first duty as an institution is to keep our patients and staff safe," Mr. Keathley said. "In partnership with our colleagues from the FDNY, our goals for this conference were to draw on our collective wisdom and experience to set a new standard for environmental safety in hospitals, and to advance our knowledge of preparedness and response systems that allow us to meet that duty."

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation's best hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place.

For more information, visit www.mountsinai.org. Follow us on Twitter @mountsinainyc.