THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — You can train for anything, but it doesn’t mean you will be prepared for everything.
Thomasville first responders found that out when they responded to the Pine Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center on Jan. 16.
Ten firefighters were some of the first people through the doors and saw the lack of control in the facility and the patient neglect.
“None of us have ever been on call where you were taking care of 98 patients. It showed us what would happen if you had a mass casualty event,” explained Thomasville Battalion Chief Robbie Binkley.
In his 25-year tenure as a Thomasville first responder, he has never seen anything as frustrating, stressful and massive as the situation at the nursing home.
His crew arrived 25 minutes after resident Lynn Wile called 911 for a second time that day.
She was one of 98 patients left to sit in their own waste with very little water, food and medication for hours.
When firefighter crews arrived to assist the first Thomasville police officers, they saw patients were wandering the halls and asking for help.
“I knew we had a hundred patients, so I was already making calls to people to help before I even got on scene,” Binkley said.
He said that the extent of what they were dealing with was more than the county resources could fix let alone fully handled by the three staff members left to care for the patients initially.
Firefighters paired off with an EMS crew member on-site and went to each room taking vital signs and administering medication.
“They were the first ones who these residents have seen. We were their caregivers, their doctors, whatever they needed us to be…It was remarkable of the crews we did have on scene that the care was given in such a quick matter of time and that the situation improved down the road,” Binkley said.