On Saturday, the Canberra Times brought word that the Australia Day storm caused a total power outage at Calvary Hospital:
Calvary Hospital lost all power, both main and auxiliary, for about 30 minutes during the storm.
No patients were affected and no operations were being conducted during the storm.
But the hospital came close to declaring a “code yellow”, or an internal disaster, after the auxiliary power failed to kick in automatically.
A hospital spokesman said the issue was being rectified, and was caused by the abnormal and incredible amount of rain.
Firstly, it is just frightening that the backup power supply did not activate because of “the abnormal and incredible amount of rain.” I take this as meaning the emergency power supply cannot cope with emergencies.
The statement by the Hospital that, essentially, no one died because there were no operations being conducted at 6.30 pm on a Saturday (which also happened to be a public holiday) so everything is OK smacks of the usual lackadaisical ACT Government approach to critical service delivery and demonstrable and life-threatening systemic failures. We need a real explanation of how this occurred and what is being done to fix it, not just flippant reassurances.
Secondly, one might be surprised to know that there is, in fact, an Australian Standard known as AS4083 Planning for emergencies – health care facilities. Code Yellow is defined as an internal emergency relating to the failure of utilities such as gas, water, electricity and communications systems.
While I cannot access the full standard, it is clear that hospitals are also required to develop clear procedures to be followed during such emergencies, including clear activation procedures.
How on earth can a total power failure for half an hour in a major tertiary hospital not constitute an internal emergency such that the presumably clear and precise procedures regarding declaring a Code Yellow were not followed? I mean, they do have procedures, right?
I suspect that some bumbling Calvary Hospital bureaucrat decided to err on the side of not declaring a Code Yellow so as to avoid drawing attention to this total stuff up.
I would be interested in hearing the views of medicos with some inside knowledge of what actually happened in this case.
What a disgrace.