Safety

Emergency Management Tip: Contingency plans for heating and cooling systems

Emergency Management Alert, September 8, 2009

Emergency Management Tip: Contingency Plans for Heating and Cooling Systems Heating and cooling systems need contingency plans. Hospitals are asked to maintain policies for “hot” and “cold” emergencies. The climate where you hospital is located will determine how much of an emphasis you need to place on one scenario versus another.

Engineering will be your biggest supporter to keep your utilities going during a disaster. However, contingency plans need to be in place for any potential disruptions. In particular, clinicians need to have a response plan to follow during brief or sustained losses of emergency power. Include this discussion in your staff orientation, and reinforce it with periodic continuing education activities for medical and other clinical staff members.

Clinical contingency plans should include, at minimum:

  • Rapid deployment of batter-powered equipment (e.g., portable suction units)
  • Assessment of critical equipment to ensure that it is plugged into backup power outlets
  • Identification of backup procedures, sometimes called “downtime procedures,” for health information technology systems
  • Care for ventilator-dependent patients

For more information about these clinical contingency plans during power outage, read HCPro’s book, The Emergency Management Coordinator’s Handbook for Hospitals.

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