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Utah hospitals prepared for natural disasters

By Devon Dolan | Posted - Nov 8th, 2012 @ 10:07am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Tough weather conditions on the East Coast have put some hospitals in worst-case scenarios. So if a natural disaster strikes Utah, how prepared are the hospitals here to keep the most vulnerable safe?

At Saint Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake, they have an extensive emergency evacuation plan that they practice twice a year. The hospital, which typically holds 170 patients at a time, said that the evacuation takes a few hours to complete.

If they lose power, the hospital has two back-up generators with enough fuel to run for 96 hours, said Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dixon. If those were to fail or the fuel ran out, staff have a manual method for keeping patients alive.

"We would take them in the bed, disconnect everything as best as possible, in the bed we can do a bag and mask and the new have back up suctions as well," said Intensive Care Unit Director Christy Tosney.

In the event of a chemical spill, the hospital has an emergency response team trailer equipped with shower and HAZMAT suits for staff. Patients who came in contact with the chemicals would be showered off in the trailer before being treated in the hospital.

And what if they had to evacuate 20 babies, like NYU's Langone Medical Center had to do last week? A pocketed vest can help staff carry four infants at one time.

For adult patients who cannot move, a slim-profiled sled-type gurney would help move them.

"You can put a harness on and actually just pull down the hallway," said Safety Officer John Jones.

Evacuees are then taken to their off-campus evacuation site, or another hospital.

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