Fire programs to help rescue those with special needs

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

HENRICO COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - A fatal house fire on Tuesday morning in Richmond, resulted in a handicapped man being rescued by firefighters. But, he later died at the scene.

This is the second fire in the past week when a handicapped person was rescued from a home. On Saturday morning, a bed-ridden and a handicapped person, were both rescued from a Henrico County home by first responders.

With these two recent fires, we explore the ways you can make sure your loved ones with special needs are safe in case of a fire. It starts with a Plan of Action and it includes alerting local firefighters of any special needs someone in a home may need.

Most of the time when firefighters get a call for a fire, they really don't know what to expect. Then, when you have handicap or bedridden issues, things can get dicey.

The home fire season is getting active, and a home escape plan is essential.

It appears neither the bedridden or disabled person who lived in this Henrico home had one. Both were rescued by responders after a weekend fire.

"We had no prior notice they were bed ridden or handicapped before we got there," says Capt. Chris Buehren, with Henrico Fire.

Then came the deadly fire in Richmond, where an elderly man in a wheelchair is pulled out of his home, to only die moments later.

There are several, simple ways to make sure firefighters know that someone may have special needs.

In Henrico County, a simple call with an address is all it takes. "We have the map book here which they can pencil it in. And then also when they get a call, it comes up on this screen," said Capt. Buehren.

That information that can be as detailed as to where in the home the person sleeps and which tells firefighters additional staff is needed. "So we can start formulating a plan on how we are going to deal with the situation when we get there," adds Buehren.

A very similar system called "Location Alert" is used in Chesterfield County.

Meanwhile, Richmond does not use a system. 'What we tend to have happen is people move so frequently, people don't update their information," says Lt. Shawn Jones with Richmond Fire.

But, they are available to meet with people with special needs about a plan of action.

All of this could save the life of someone who can't get out of a burning home, on their own.

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