UNION — Though his office would be left in the dark, Union Hospital District CEO Tim Merritt says Wallace Thomson Hospital’s two backup generators would keep the critical areas of hospital supplied with electricity in the event of a power failure.
During a joint meeting of Union County Council and the Union Hospital District Board on March 7, some council members raised the question of whether or not the hospital would be able to continue functioning in the event on a power failure, asking specifically about its two backup generators. They were assured by members of the hospital district’s staff that the hospital was prepared for such a situation and that its generators could keep it supplied with power.
The issued was addressed again earlier this week by Merritt who pointed out that the generators are tested on a regular basis to ensure that they can perform their assigned tasks in the event of an emergency.
“Once a week we start them up to make sure that they are in working order,” Merritt said Wednesday. “Each one powers a different branch of the hospital and once a month we start them and put the hospital’s operating load of power on the generators to make sure they are functioning at maximum capacity. The joint committee requires us to do this in order to ensure patient safety in the event power failures.”
Merritt said if a power failure occurs, the generators are designed to kick in immediately, though not all areas of the hospital would get power.
“If the generators sense an interruption in electric service they click on automatically to power the hospital,” Merritt said. “My office would be in the dark and some of other offices are not on the backup system, but all the critical areas — surgery, OB, ICU and other diagnostic patient areas — would have power within three seconds.”
Merritt said that at any time the diesel-powered generators have enough fuel in them to keep the critical areas of the hospital supplied with power for up to a week. If the disruption in power persists beyond that time, Merritt said there are arrangements in place to keep the generators supplied with fuel.
“We have mutual agreements in place to continuously replenish the fuel supply,” Merritt said. “We have agreements with various suppliers to bring in fuel as long as we need it.”
The generators are the backup for the hospital, but Merritt said the district also has a backup for them as well.
“If the generators would not function we have an arrangement with a company that would bring in a large generator on a flatbed truck,” Merritt said. “It would bypass the generators and power the hospital. That’s the backup backup plan, so there’s two backup plans. We have all these in place to ensure uninterrupted service continues in the event of a disaster that resulted in power interruption.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.