Penshurst Hospital Evacuation

CLiaison's picture March 19, 2018


Residents from the Penshurst Campus ready to return after stay in Hamilton

This weekend’s strong winds, high temperatures and fire activity kept Western District Health Service (WDHS) staff busy responding to fallen tree limbs and evacuating residents from the Penshurst Campus. 

The local Country Fire Authority alerted WDHS to the potential risk to the township of Penshurst from the fires late on Saturday night.  

The unpredictable nature of the strong winds, the rapid spread of the fire and uncertainty of its path lead to a decision to evacuate all 25 residents from Penshurst District Health Service (PDHS).

Senior PDHS Nursing Staff assisted with organising sufficient people on the ground to respond to the emerging situation and the Emergency Management Team was activated.

At approximately 12.15am on Sunday morning, the first of three buses left Penshurst to evacuate residents to Hamilton. 

Chief Executive, Rohan Fitzgerald said community spirit was alive and well on the buses, with the residents breaking renditions of ‘You are My Sunshine’ and ‘Three Blind Mice’.    

“One of the very excited residents was even heard saying ‘this is a great adventure and can we do this every night’,” Mr Fitzgerald said. 

Residents arriving from Penshurst were cared for at the Birches and in the Hamilton Base Hospital (HBH) Surgical Unit and were warmly welcomed by Hamilton staff.

Mr Fitzgerald says quite remarkably, the entire evacuation took a little over two hours to complete, with most residents tucked up in bed and off to sleep by 2.30am.

“The Penshurst staff were absolutely amazing and worked above and beyond to ensure residents were out of harm’s way. Off duty staff came in from home, our afternoon shift stayed on and resident and staff members’ families pitched in too.

A big thank you to our bus drivers for ensuring the residents all arrived safe and sound and our After-Hours Coordinator, whose efforts ensured a smooth transition for residents into their new temporary home. 

I couldn’t be prouder of each and every one involved for the way in which they supported the evacuation and made the entire exercise seem effortless.

This substantial effort would not have been possible without the absolute commitment of our team to ensuring our residents were safe, comfortable and well cared for,” Mr Fitzgerald said.