Safety

Wildfires and total power loss test a California hospital

Hospital Safety Insider, November 19, 2008

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Wildfires that have been raging in Southern California created problems for Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar over the weekend.
 
Flames burned through the hospital’s main electrical lines, which triggered the emergency generator. The hospital also has a self-contained power plant on the campus, and by design the generator only fills in as a power supply until the plant starts operating during a main power loss, the Los Angeles Times reported.
 
However, a fuel pump in the plant failed, and the entire facility went into darkness. Meanwhile, smoke seeped into the hospital’s lower floors.
 
Olive View decided to evacuate 27 infants and critical patients from a census of more than 200. Clinicians used resuscitation bags on patients whose ventilators stopped working when the power went out, the Times said.
 
Full electricity returned within four hours, and hospital officials were investigating why the fuel pump in the power plant failed, including whether it was overcome by heat and smoke from the fire, according to the Times.
 
Olive View evacuated several patients in October, too, after a wildfire crept toward the hospital.



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