You don’t have to live in the hurricane belt to be prepared for extreme emergency scenarios and have a plan in place to overcome them. Disasters come in many forms – natural and man-made – and can strike with little or no notice quickly affecting the HTM landscape. Tornadoes, heavy rains and flash floods are just a few of the many disaster events that can impact entire geographic populated areas including places of business and public service locations such as hospitals and other health care provider locations that the general population relies upon as a safe haven.
Natural disasters such a Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma remind us how important it is to have an up-to-date disaster plan in place that’s ready to be implemented at a moment’s notice. HTM professionals train to be reactive to service events, but how do we prepare to be proactive and prepared for service events caused by a natural or man-made disaster? Perhaps your hospital’s Medical Equipment Management Plan (MEMP) speaks to this type of readiness? Here is a challenge for HTM service professionals, pull-out your organization’s MEMP and see if it speaks to how your organization is to be prepared at all times for natural and man-made disasters. It is highly likely that it does not speak to it in detail or maybe not all!
The medical equipment clean-up which always follows natural disasters such as Harvey and Irma can be immense in not only effort but also cost. Medical equipment that was not properly shut down during the natural disaster is susceptible to power brown-out and other electrical disturbances that tend to be one of many harmful side effects of a natural disaster. Damaged power supplies and critical electronics of the medical equipment are usually causalities of these adverse conditions. Liquid cooling supply systems, such as chillers associated with many advanced imaging medical equipment, can become affected by natural disaster flooding or their heat-exchanger jackets may have contaminated cooling water introduced in the system causing both short and long-term flow and bacteria issues. It can take weeks, if not months, from the post-disaster recovery period for many of the immediate diagnosed medical equipment failures to be rectified and add even more challenges. Some symptoms leading to equipment failure may not show themselves clearly for six-months or more.
Lessons learned from natural disaster experiences such as the most recent hurricanes provide a wealth of knowledge regarding the value of preparedness and readiness. These lessons need to be thoroughly learned from and put into immediate disaster planning initiatives. They should be incorporated into your organization’s MEMP. A saying many of us may be familiar with is that hindsight is 20/20. Take advantage of this very valuable rear view vision!
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