Volunteers assist with relocation
Seventy residents of the Monette Manor Nursing Home were relocated Tuesday night, March 23, as a safety precaution after electrical problems developed at the facility on Highway 139 north of town.
"The residents were never in any life-threatening danger, but we just wanted them to rest soundly while we took care of the electrical damage in the building," Administrator Marla Layne said. "We always wondered how an evacuation would go should we ever need one, and now we know. It couldn't have gone any smoother. Our staff and the city worked flawlessly together to move the residents to the Monette First Baptist Family Life Center (FLC) Tuesday night and back here the next morning. The transition went without incident and all residents were continuously well cared for."
Fire Chief Bob Blankenship reported the fire alarm went off at 6 p.m. Tuesday night, and the department responded to Monette Manor with two fire trucks.
"The nursing home followed their emergency protocol and already had removed the residents from their rooms and had them in the dining hall area," Blankenship said. "There were fire sparks in an air conditioner fan area at the south end of the building, which was quickly taken care of. Tri-State Electrical Company of Jonesboro had been working on the installation of a new generator system at the nursing home, when an electrical power surge occurred."
"Electricians unplugged all equipment from outlets in the entire building and each room was checked thoroughly after the residents were removed from their rooms," Blankenship said. "A decision was made to fully evacuate and move residents to the FLC, on Highway 18. Emerson Ambulance Service sent three ambulances and four transport vans to help relocate the residents, along with the Monette Manor wheelchair van. Firemen from Monette and Caraway provided manpower for the relocation and transferal of beds, supplies, files and all necessary equipment. Local businesses and farmers provided trucks and flatbeds for moving the beds. The Police Department was in charge of traffic control throughout the transition. Everyone worked great together to get the job done."
"Seventy residents were relocated," Layne said. "Fifty-nine residents were taken to the FLC and nine went home with their families. Two residents were in the hospital at the time of evacuation. We notified all families as to the situation and made sure all treatment supplies were relocated with the residents so there was never a break in their regular schedule of medical care. This was an amazing experience, and I can't thank my staff and the people of Buffalo Island enough for their support and care."
"We have an emergency evacuation plan for the city but have never had a need to implement it," Blankenship said. "This week we put it into use and were pleased to see how smoothly it worked. We called it controlled chaos. The staff at Monette Manor was awesome. They just took care of all the things that needed to be moved with the residents and stayed with them through the night. The firemen and area citizens took care of the heavy-duty work of relocation and making sure the transition went smoothly. The FLC was very accessible and had more than enough room to accommodate the nursing home residents, along with a commercial kitchen and bathroom facilities."
"The residents settled down very well after relocation," Layne said. "They were comfortable and well cared for. No one complained, as they understood the precautions being taken on their behalf. They were all back in their rooms by 10 a.m. Wednesday morning."
"Everyone in the area was involved in taking care of this emergency situation," Mayor Chub Qualls said. "This gave new meaning for the word volunteer. I can't begin to express the appreciation for the help that came from this community and our neighbors. The nursing home employees, firemen, policemen, city staff, area farmers, Baptist Church members, and citizens off the street all pitched in to do what they could to help. It was estimated that more than 200 people were out here taking care of what needed to be done, in a timely and efficient fashion."
"The response to the ice storm last year, and now this relocation, tells me we live in the most caring place in the world," Qualls said. "Small towns have always been highly underrated, but times like this just show me we are the fortunate ones. We live in a place where people care and work together to help each other in time of need. The community spirit is alive and well here in Monette, and we are very thankful to all our friends and neighbors."