Calif. hospitals examine emergency power post-Sandy

After several hospitals on the East Coast had troubling issues with power loss, health officials are looking into disaster preparedness

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. — Hospital leaders and officials are now discussing emergency hospital power after many hospitals on the East Coast were left without electricity from Hurricane Sandy.

"It's probably implicit for every hospital to be re-examining not only the location of their generators, but also what could happen in a major storm surge," Director of Contra Costa Health Services Dr. William Walker told the Contra Costa Times.

Walker said that hospital officials meet regularly to discuss disaster planning and, in the aftermath of Sandy, will be going over emergency preparedness for hospitals. California hospitals are required to have backup generators and enough onsite fuel to power the facility for 24 hours, with generators starting within 10 seconds of an outage.

Hospitals are also required to test their generators for half an hour every 20-40 days.

The Contra Costa Times reports that many Calif. hospitals are well-equipped, some with generators and fuel to last for days, even months. Many of the facilities keep their generators above ground and away from potential flood zones — something that some East Coast hospitals failed to do.

Starting in 2014, Calif. building code will require new hospitals to have generators above any flood plains and enough fuel to run for 72 hours. Existing hospitals will not need to abide by these requirements.

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