Back to home

A day in the life: emergency response

A day in the life: emergency response

Odds are low that on any given day, a real emergency situation will arise. But Jane Power, director of clinical operations in Trail, has defied those odds a couple of notable times.

A year ago on New Year’s Eve, a winter storm knocked out power at the Arrow Lake Hospital in Nakusp. Thankfully the back-up generator kicked into gear and all was well. Until 3:00 a.m. when the house generator failed and the lights went out. Despite heroic efforts by the maintenance team, the generator would not restart, and the building remained dark.

The power outage caused a series of other problems. The doors of the connected long term care home were locked in the open position, so people prone to wandering might have left the building. The hospital’s phone and internet systems were out of service. Without electricity, the building would have no heat, and the temperature of medication refrigerators was at risk.

Jane was the manager-on-call in the area that night. When she learned about the emergency, she jumped into action and started making a series of late night phone calls to address the problems and coordinate resources.

By mid-morning, Jane and her team had located another generator — on New Year’s Day no less, and made arrangements to transfer all people living in long term care to a new place.

Fortunately, power was restored early the next afternoon, and no one needed to leave their home.

Would you be ready to manage such an emergency?

Later that year and once again the manager-on-call, Jane got the call when the water supply to Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital stopped. This caused immediate problems for the renal program, threatened the hospital’s ability to carry through with planned surgeries, and was going to cause problems for those living and working at nearby Poplar Ridge long term care home. 

Jane and her team immediately arranged drinking water and planned for shutdowns to certain hospital programs. Fortunately, water pressure was restored sooner than expected and those disruptions were minimal.  

Jane Power laughs when she is asked to share what she’s learned about emergency response.

“You need to respond quickly, you can’t manage everything yourself, and you need to pull together the right people so there are different voices and experiences trying to solve the problem,” says Jane. “People are so generous. Everybody answers their phones – even in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve. IH has amazing people.” 

In the everyday bustle of health care, unusual circumstances can happen. Emergencies of this size don’t happen often, but when they do, it’s reassuring to know there emergency response plans in place for each Interior Health location, and people like Jane to lead us through them.