Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
People depend on electricity for many vital health services both at home and in hospitals, so when the power goes out, many people are at risk. The Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) worked with state officials in Connecticut to provide them the equipment, infrastructure, and training that they would need to handle many kinds of disasters, including the widespread power outages caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Using these resources, Connecticut state officials were better able to communicate and respond to the disaster.
The widespread power outages in Connecticut following Hurricane Irene in August 2011 caused six hospitals to go on generator support and left many people without the electricity they needed to power their medical equipment or refrigerate their medicines. Many people who the lost the electricity that they depended on for their medical care crowded into the already stressed hospitals.
HPP has worked with hospitals in Connecticut for years, providing the infrastructure, training, and equipment that helped the hospitals respond effectively to Hurricane Irene. Thanks to enhanced evacuation drill planning, the hospitals were able to identify gaps in their levels or preparedness before the emergency and take steps to fill them. When the disaster struck, hospital staff had a better understanding of what they needed to do and were able to effectively evacuate patients as needed.
HPP programs have also given Connecticut the funding that they needed for improved communications systems and helped develop a strong base of healthcare coalitions that hospitals worked with throughout the event. Interoperable communications enabled hospitals to stay in touch with responders in the field. HPP also provided funding for tools such as Hospital Available Beds for Emergencies and Disasters (HAvBED), an electronically-based bed tracking system that gave hospitals current bed counts. This system allowed the regional communications center to work with area hospitals to coordinate the diversion of emergency patients in the initial hours of the incident.
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