At its inaugural Stakeholder Meeting in 2014, the value of enhanced situational awareness of hospital generator status for facilities impacted by disaster was thoughtfully addressed by Steven Curren, then Manager of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Program at the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
Curren said there is often a significant lag between the start of an incident or disaster and when the federal government receives accurate hospital status information. Curren said that it is important that all levels of government receive accurate and timely facility status information during a disaster in order to mobilize the appropriate response assets in a timely fashion. These resources often take hours to days to mobilize, so it is essential that the process can start as early as possible. Curren also said one of the benefits of shared situational awareness is that it would help avoid the too-frequent issue of redundant calls to a facility from multiple response organizations seeking status updates.
Utilities can also derive great value from enhanced situational awareness of hospital generator status. In a post disaster scenario in which multiple hospitals are without power and relying on backup generator power, if a utility knows that one hospital is running dangerously low of fuel and cannot secure fuel resupply, that hospital could be prioritized for restoration.
Powered for Patients took a major step forward in enhancing situational awareness of emergency power system status in 2017 with the introduction of new, voluntary protocols that call upon hospitals and other critical healthcare facilities to provide an early warning to a government official at the first sign of generator trouble during a disaster period that includes extended power outages. This new protocol was highlighted in Roadmap to Resiliency, the white paper Powered for Patients co-authored with ASHE in 2017, as well as in Protecting Patients When Disaster Strikes, the Playbook developed with FEMA funding in conjunction with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency that was also published in 2017. The new protocol addresses manual notification of a government official by a healthcare facility via fax, email or phone.
As part of Powered for Patients’ work to enhance situational awareness of hospital generator status, it continues to explore the ability of remote monitoring and automated reporting technologies to give government officials and utilities real time situational awareness of hospital generator status. As part of its Florida Emergency Power Initiative, a pilot study to test the sharing of remotely monitored generator data between hospitals and government is planned.