Emergency backup standards (was Re: "Cyber Shockwave" on CNN)

Sean Donelan sean at donelan.com
Sun Feb 21 04:14:58 UTC 2010

On Sat, 20 Feb 2010, Valdis.Kletnieks at vt.edu wrote:
> (WTF quote that just went by - "Hospitals have backup diesel generators, but
> only 6-12 hours of fuel". I certainly hope that number is suffering from
> pulled-from-orifice syndrome. Heck - *our* day tank has 36 hours of diesel in
> it because "power out for 48-72 hours due to ice storm" is a realistic threat
> around here.

The standards have been changing.  As always, please consult with a 
professional engineer licensed in your jurisdiction.  Depending on the 
type of medical facility, it may now require up to 96 hours of backup. 
Although most medical care facilities are probably in the 24 or 72 hour 

At the upper operational limit, its a dry tank.  You probably need to 
start worrying about escorting fuel trucks through the disaster area 
before the tanks run dry.  It also assumes all medical facilites had
the money to upgrade backup capacity and topped-off their tanks.

See the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Organizations and 
the National Fire Protection Association standards.


   But systems that meet those standards are .not always sufficient. in
   major catastrophes, according to a warning issued after Katrina by the
   organization that accredits most American hospitals, the Joint
   Commission. National electrical standards for hospitals were
   traditionally oriented toward maintaining electricity during common,
   brief local power outages, not prolonged emergencies.


   "We've had power outages before in parts of the city," City Manager
   James Keene said. "But to have essentially the entire city without
   power from 8 in the morning to 6 at night, the impact that was having
   on businesses and critical services like Stanford Hospital, and all our
   traffic lights being out . you think about all the bad things and
   problems that could have unfolded over the course of the day. We really
   avoided most of those."

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