Virginia Alonso-Gutierrez - Ashes Fire Consulting
Fire evacuation in hospitals is a challenging process that involves the evacuation of patients that are not able to evacuate by themselves and may require assistance. Health-care personnel is generally responsible for assisting the patients during this process. Assisted evacuation in a hospital relies on a pre-determined procedure that defines the priority of patients. The evacuation will depend upon the personnel actions and decisions during the procedure. Evacuation models are powerful tools to investigate evacuation strategies and they have been applied to different types of scenarios. Based upon the self-evacuation approach, the input variables typically used in different scenarios are pre-evacuation times, walking speeds, route selection and exit flows. However, hospitals involve different factors that may potentially affect the evacuation times such as the time to prepare, the evacuation priority (the assignment of the patients to each staff member) based on the protocol, the time to reach a patient, the time to prepare the patient before starting the evacuation movement or the time to move each patient. In addition, some of the existing models are capable of modelling wheelchair users; however in hospitals, non-ambulant patients may need to be assisted also by using a stretcher, blanket or similar device that may have to be moved using a blanket drag. This paper proposes a modelling strategy to simulate a hospital evacuation. The capabilities of two commercial evacuation models, STEPS and Pathfinder, are explored to evaluate their ability to simulate this type of scenarios. This includes the study of the issues concerning the simulation of horizontal hospital evacuation (i.e. calibration issues, capabilities and limitations). A case study is presented in this paper by using STEPS model.