Aim: The purpose of this article is to present a hospital evacuation model, or one for a building with similar specifications, which was developed on the basis of historical data, the author’s observations and interviews with medical staff, and personnel who co-ordinate rescue and evacuation operations of the State Fire Service.

Introduction: The article addressed issues which influence the evacuation process in hospitals. Users of hospital premises were grouped and allocated roles during an evacuation process. Tasks were specified for medical staff, patients, visitors and personnel engaged with management of rescue operations. A critical organisational infrastructure and its influence on the hospital evacuation process was proffered and was accompanied by a description of most frequently observed evacuee behaviour patterns. The authors identified patterns of behaviour, which influence the emergence of danger in hospitals, especially on psychiatric wards and focused on the importance of familiarisation with individual hospital characteristics and events, which may have a bearing on the evacuation process such as fires and other dangers. Attention was focused on those factors which compound or alleviate the evacuation process.

Conclusions: On the basis of gathered historical data, information gained from medical staff, and observation of evacuations drills, it was concluded that clear and precise evacuation guidelines should be produced, which take into account the nature of premises and category of patients involved, in order to ensure the successful development of a hospital safety system. Alarm testing and evacuation drills should be carried out more frequently in order to acquaint people with suitable behaviour patterns and use of equipment, and to promote appropriate interaction with the State Fire Service. In order to ensure levels of safety, the authors highlighted a need to eliminate false alarms, which tend to place people into a state of psychological indifference, culminating with adverse consequences in face of real danger. Moreover, it is recommended that hospital staff numbers are increased, to facilitate quicker internal intervention during an outbreak of fire, but above all, to speed up the evacuation process so that all occupants are evacuated prior to the arrival of the Fire Service. It is suggested that an evacuation model, for a given hospital building, should be developed as well as guidelines for appropriate communication methods between hospital staff and rescue teams reacting to an emergency.

Relevance in practice: The article contains information about tasks attributed to medical staff, patient and visitor behaviour as well as existing evacuation procedures implemented in hospitals. These were collated to derive an optimal procedural model, application of which is expected to assist functionaries in avoiding mistakes during the development and implementation of fire safety systems for individual hospitals.

Keywords: human behavior, hospital evacuation