Disaster plans. All hospitals have them, but few of us, thankfully, are forced to implement them. At Los Alamos (N.M.) Medical Center, the immeasurable value of a good disaster plan was demonstrated recently as fires threatened to consume our hospital and community.
It began on June 26, a Sunday, when a tree fell on a power line, sparking the first flames of what is known as the Las Conchas fire, the largest in New Mexico history. During the next 36 days, the fire would char nearly 160,000 acres surrounding Los Alamos.
As the fire began, phone calls poured in to our hospital. Where was the fire going? Could the hospital stay open? Our team activated the initial stages of our disaster plan. We sent our ventilator patients to other facilities, connected with authorities monitoring the blaze and began preparing for the worst.