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Yk seniors' homes well-prepared for fires
Emergency response at AVENS one of best in country, says CEO

Daniel Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In the wake of a disastrous fire at a Quebec seniors' home that killed 28 people Jan. 23, the safety of elderly care facilities is being questioned across the country.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jeff Renaud, CEO of AVENS - A Community for Seniors, says his facility is one of the best prepared for emergencies in the country. - Daniel Campbell/NNSL photo

But here in Yellowknife, it appears our seniors can rest easy.

Jeff Renaud, CEO of AVENS, says Aven Cottages and Aven Manor are well prepared when it comes to fire safety.

"I've worked in three provinces across the country," Renaud said, "and AVENS has probably one of the best emergency response plans I've ever seen."

Concerns about sprinkler systems, evacuation plans and the amount of staff overnight at seniors' homes arose in the wake of the deadly fire at the Residence du Havre, in the town of L'Isle-Verte, Que.

Dennis Marchiori, director of public safety for the city, said the two facilities fall under a city bylaw requiring all multi-family homes to have a sprinkler system. There are no other regulations specific to seniors' homes, he added - they simply fall under existing regulations.

Renaud says every building in his facility has a sprinkler system, which is inspected annually.

AVENS has 100 staff to care for the 29 beds at Aven Manor, and 28 in Aven Cottages. They also employ a night watch of three staff working in the manor and two in the cottages, Renaud explained.

"We're dealing with people's lives here. You don't scrimp and save on emergency response systems," he said.

Renaud is well-versed in the business of seniors care, having been in the industry for 24 years, and working specifically with seniors facilities for the last decade. He has been with AVENS in Yellowknife for the last year and a half.

"Anybody who's in this business, you're in the business of caring for people," Renaud said.

Staff at the facility conducts fire drills three times a month, along with an annual mock evacuation involving all residents at the facility.

"This is so our residents are trained on evacuation and what to do in the event of an emergency."

"The staff are super well-trained," Renaud said.

The facility has a detailed evacuation plan, which includes dividing the main building into several safe zones and the use of local schools as temporary shelters in the event of an emergency.

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