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Nursing home officials praise community response during evacuation

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Davis Heathcare Center administrator Christian Marcheschi helps organizes residents belongings in bags donated from Ikea. Residents had to be removed from the Pole Line Road facility Thursday evening after damaged power lines resulted in electrical arcing and a power outage in the building. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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From page A3 | May 25, 2014 |

Generators hummed Friday at an East Davis skilled nursing facility that was the scene of a mass evacuation the night before after downed electrical lines led to a power outage in the building.

But there was no sign of despair or frustration among the Davis Healthcare Center’s administrators or staff, who instead were all smiles over the community response that got the facility’s 101 residents moved out both safety and efficiently.

“This is something that could have gone pretty horribly, but what really helped was the unification of all the services,” said Aaron Edmonds, branch president of Plum Healthcare Group LLC, which owns and operates the Davis facility.

What turned into a nearly six-hour evacuation effort began shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, when staff at the nursing home at 715 Pole Line Road called the Davis Fire Department to report sparking electrical outlets that had set off the fire alarm system.

Fire crews arrived to find power lines that, apparently due to pressure applied by surrounding tree branches, had touched one another and arced, triggering a power surge in the 1960s-era building, according to Christian Marcheschi, Davis Healthcare Center administrator.

Emergency generators kicked on when the power went out, but for safety reasons the Davis fire marshal ordered a shutdown of the facility, “so at that point we had no choice but to commence evacuation,” Marcheschi said.

Edmonds said that’s when the impressive community response commenced, involving not only the Fire Department but also ambulance personnel, regional transit operations and other health-care facilities, even those not necessarily affiliated with the Davis Healthcare Center.

A physician also was on hand to make sure residents boarded transit vehicles safely as they headed for their temporary living arrangements, including some as far away as Roseville, Grass Valley and Placerville. No injuries were reported.

“I can’t say enough about our staff,” Edmonds said Friday as employees nearby filled some of the 250 bright blue shopping bags donated by IKEA to transport residents’ belongings. “They led this process out without any panic or concerns. It’s been an amazing thing to watch.”

Marcheschi said electrical engineers will come out early this week to assess the damage to the building and begin repairs, but the timing of the residents’ return remains unclear.

Edmonds said it’s not a process that will be rushed.

“We want to make sure they’re safe and want to make sure our staff is safe,” he said.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

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