Lessons learned from CT hospital fire

Emergency Management Alert, August 25, 2009

The flames that ensued after a basement transformers caught fire on August 11 in Lawrence & Memorial Hospital turned out not to be the most difficult emergency that day, says the hospital president, Bruce Cummings, according to

The real problem, he said, was the loss of air conditioning on a hot summer day. The hospital, located in New London, CT, was forced to relocate patients and delay surgeries the day of the fire. A day later, however, the hospital was still left without air conditioning. Even after one of the three transformers that powers the hospital was restarted, the cooling system could not be reactivated because of the way the electrical system is wired.

Despite the purchase of 120 fans and loaning of the state's four freestanding emergency air conditioners, the temperature inside the hospital rose quickly, and hospital officials had plans to evacuate the entire hospital with 163 patients inside, according to

Cummings said they are learning form the emergency, including the need to upgrade the electrical system. He also said that the fire created multiple emergencies at once, which led officials to veer off a bit from their hospital's emergency plan.


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