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Smoke smell at Sunrise prompts response from area EMS

January 10, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Sunrise Hill Care and Rehab Center reported their power motors had shorted out on Saturday, Jan. 5 during the 10 a.m. hour and left the north hall with a smoke smell, prompting Traer Fire Dept, Dysart Fire Dept, the Tama County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management to arrive on scene.

"From what I understand, a squirrel chewed through something to cause a chain of reactions to short out a couple of motors in our basement and on the roof, causing a smoke smell throughout the building," Dan Donahue, Sunrise Hill Administrator said. "We called the fire department because we thought it was an electrical smell. The fire dept arrived and the school sent a bus in case we need to evacuate the building."

Kris Whitmore, Director of Nursing for Sunrise Hill, was on duty as the staff and EMS enacted a disaster plan to ensure the safety of residents. While squirrels aren't necessarily part of those plans, the staff treated this situation like a fire emergency.

"Our staff is well-trained in what to do in the case of an emergency," Whitmore said. "The charge nurse primarily made the calls to get the appropriate people here for a fire precaution."

Upon arriving on scene himself, Donahue saw local firemen on the scene as residents were moved out of the north hall and other areas to assisted living. Firemen checked the facility for smoke or fire damage. Without power, the staff made sandwiches for residents as it approached lunch hour and first responders eventually gave the all-clear as power was restored.

"[First responders] did a wonderful job and we have these plans to follow," Whitmore said. "Staff are required to go through mock drills and to go over the policy. Having those drills made everything go very smoothly and protect the residents, because that is our ultimate goal. We thankfully didn't have to evacuate. It's comforting to have responders if, heaven forbid, something did have happen. We appreciate their work."

Care facilities, such as Sunrise Hill, are required by law to have fire escape plans and call in issues such what occurred in Traer. No injuries were reported. Sunrise Hill will continue to hold mock drills every year to simulate fire escape, tornado and other disasters.



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