On December 25th, 2020, Nashville, TN, was hit by what some would say was domestic terrorism. Several AT&T services were compromised when emergency power was interrupted by a reported shut down of natural gas to emergency generators, which supplied power to communication equipment. Hind-site would suggest that maybe diesel generators would have been a better choice. Hind-site is always 20-20, at least most of the time.

Using this event as a learning experience, we believe that every health care facility should have an All-Hazards risk assessment made by qualified individuals who have experience dealing with the unexpected. Having communication equipment shut down during an emergency is something straight out of a horror movie.

We experienced a similar event when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida and knocked out power to cell towers, most of which only had small 40-50kW diesel-powered sets with 50-gallon subbase tanks. What was not contemplated during design was that since land phone lines could be inoperative, cell phones would be the only means of communication. They were thereby causing transmission gear and air conditioning loads at cell sites to suffer tremendous stress resulting in more diesel fuel burned to keep equipment from overheating. In some cases, this meant refueling cell site generators every 24 hours or less.  Only by borrowing National Guard personnel were we able to keep 20 plus cell sites powered for the better part of 2 weeks.

The loss of electric power is only one of your worries. The language in 42 CFR 482.15 necessitates that you be prophetic in planning for the loss of ALL utilities, including loss of natural gas and diesel fuel deliveries. And that is JUST the start of assessments and planning…