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Reducing Earthquake Risk in Hospitals
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Hospitals provide life-saving medical care on a daily basis to the communities that they serve. Your community expects your hospital and its staff to save lives in an emergency and to care for community members, if they are severely injured or become seriously ill. Your hospital has an additional responsibility to keep patients and staff safe. In particular, critical care patients, the very ill and the very young will require protection: they will not be able to protect themselves or to evacuate, if disaster strikes. Earthquakes threaten your hospital's ability to carry out it’s responsibilities to care for the ill and injured. Past earthquakes around the world have destroyed hospitals or damaged them so that they could not function. These hospitals failed their communities in their hour of greatest need. You can take reasonable measures to reduce your risk of earthquake damage and losses and to keep your hospital functioning after an earthquake. This manual will help you to reduce one of the major sources of earthquake-related damage and losses: your hospital's medical equipment and supplies, contents, architectural elements, and building utility systems. Damage to these items has caused deaths, injuries, building functional loss, and economic loss in past earthquakes, even in cases in which the building structure itself was essentially undamaged. This manual outlines measures for anchoring and bracing items properly to reduce risk; these steps, however, form only one part of the comprehensive approach that you need to take, in order to keep your hospital safe from earthquakes. Your hospital buildings might be at risk of severe damage or even collapse in a major earthquake, but you can strengthen them, if needed, with the help of engineers and building professionals. Your staff may not know what to do if an earthquake strikes, but you can train them, so that they do know how to respond. You can start to reduce your hospital's earthquake risk today. The first step is to create a hospital emergency preparedness committee, if you do not already have one. This committee will develop a plan to ensure that (a) your hospital's buildings are safe and will not collapse during an earthquake; (b) medical equipment and supplies, contents, architectural elements, and building utility systems will not fall or fail and injure patients or endanger critical functions; and (c) your staff will be prepared to keep themselves, their patients and their families safe if an earthquake strikes. The hospital emergency preparedness committee can use this manual to get started. The next step is to pass this manual along to your hospital's maintenance or engineering department head and to direct them to begin anchoring and bracing critical equipment and building utility systems. This manual provides guidance for maintenance personnel and engineers, as well as references to additional technical information. Most anchoring and bracing can be done using low-cost, readily available parts and tools. Preparing your hospital is a process that takes time to complete. By starting today, you demonstrate your commitment to be there for the community after a major earthquake strikes.
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