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Evacuate This!

Evacuate this! So, you want to evacuate your hospital now?

It seems like evacuating hospitals has become all the rage in healthcare preparedness recently. While I think understanding how and when to evacuate your hospital is an important part of healthcare preparedness, evacuating a hospital should not be taken lightly. Among the many factors to consider the simplest is often the most overlooked… and that is, the traffic.

You see, any event that would be big enough to cause you to evacuate your hospital would probably have an impact on the surrounding community as well. What will you do when it's not only your hospital evacuated but the entire community or county or city that you live in trying to evacuate?

This traffic pattern concern became upfront and personal with me just the other day on my way home from school. One single traffic accident 10 miles away from where I was snarled traffic on the major expressways and alternate routes.  Again, this was one simple traffic accident… no hazardous materials, no terrorist attack, no helicopter crash. Just a simple multi-car pileup during rush hour. The injuries thankfully, were not severe either.

In just a few minutes every feeder to the expressway was congested with overflow traffic. The expressway itself Route 390 N. was bumper-to-bumper for almost 10 miles. Can you imagine trying to get vehicles in and out of your hospital during that type of traffic snarl?  What happens when you begin an evacuation only to find the roads are no longer clear? Moving patients from hospital to hospital without a designated clear route of evacuation is dangerous. There is substantial risk of having patients become caught in traffic tie ups or other situations that obstruct roadway travel.

These issues must be understood in the risks calculated before any evacuation of the healthcare facility takes place.

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