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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2005 Sep-Oct;20(5):343-9.

Blackout 2003: preparedness and lessons learned from the perspectives of four hospitals.

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48235, USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The blackout in North America of August 2003 was one of the worst on record. It affected eight US states and parts of Canada for >24 hours. Additionally, two large US cities, Detroit, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio, suffered from a loss of water pressure and a subsequent ban on the use of public supplies of potable water that lasted four days. A literature review revealed a paucity of literature that describes blackouts and how they may affect the medical community.

METHODS:

This paper includes a review of after-action reports from four inner-city, urban hospitals supplemented accounts from the authors' hospital's emergency operations center (EOC).

RESULTS:

Some of the problems encountered, included: (1)lighting; (2) elevator operations; (3) supplies of water; (4) communication operations; (5) computer failure; (6) lack of adequate supplies of food; (7) mobility to obtain X-ray studies; (8) heating, air condition, and ventilation; (9) staffing; (10) pharmacy; (11) registration of patients; (12) hospital EOC; (13) loss of isolation facilities; (14) inadequate supplies of paper; (15) impaired ability to provide care for non-emergency patients; (16) sanitation; and (17) inadequate emergency power.

DISCUSSION:

The blackout of 2003 uncovered problems within the US hospital system, ranging from staffing to generator coverage. This report is a review of the effects that the blackout and water ban of 2003 had on hospitals in a large inner-city area. Also discussed are solutions utilized at the time and recommendations for the future.

CONCLUSION:

The blackout of 2003 was an excellent test of disaster/emergency planning, and produced many valuable lessons to be used in future events.

PMID:
16295172
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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