Power outages at hospitals, how backup generators save lives

Local News

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO)– As thousands of homes were affected by power outages during Hurricane Hanna, hospitals also saw its effects. Health officials tell us how this affected those relying on life critical equipment.

“We have multiple generators and there are backups to the backups,” said Sherri Abendroth, Emergency Management Coordinator at DHR.

Abendroth tells us the hospital’s backup generators kicked in as soon as the power went out. 

“There’s an automatic transfer switch in those generators and when it detects a loss in current from the electrical grid it automatically transfers to generator power,” she said. 

Abendroth said the generators usually kick in within 10 seconds. While we received some concerns over a delay within the generators at the hospital, Abendroth assures us patients with life critical equipment were not affected. 

“Anybody who is on any kind of critical equipment, their equipment is attached to the life critical electrical grid powered by the generator portion that only powers that stuff,” she said.

In case the transfer switches don’t work, DHR has staff 24/7 who can manually transfer power into the equipment. Abendroth adds, in the event of a patient being sent home with a ventilator, they will be providing them with resources. 

“If we had a patient that was struggling with power we would certainly either bring them in so that we can put them in an environment that does have power and help manage that or provide resources,” she said.

Abendroth said they are prepared if another power outage occurs and assures us their main priority is keeping their patients safe. 

Anyone currently dealing with a power outage is urged to contact their local power company.

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