In Wake Of Devastating Mexico Earthquake, California Plans For Its Own

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Disaster planning is top of mind for hospitals across the state, even more so after the big earthquake that rocked Central Mexico.

Close to 1,000 hospital administrators and emergency officials met in Sacramento Wednesday to take another look at their plan.

“All of us have an earthquake annex or an earthquake plan that’s a part of our emergency operation,” said Sharon Carlson, an emergency management official from San Diego.

That’s the standard at every hospital in California. Carlson says disaster planning for any catastrophe is a neverending routine.

“All hospitals have a generator, so that generator gets tested every month to help sustain essential services,” Carlson added.

Hospital staff tests the generator every month, so in the event of a power outage they can keep the hospital up and running.

In addition to yearly disaster drills, all hospitals in California have an incident command similar to those used by law enforcement and fire agencies.

“There’s a definite, defined role for everybody in that incident command,” Carlson said.

It’s the hospital’s way of bringing order and structure to the chaos during a disaster.

“You never say you’re fully prepared, just wait, sit back and do nothing; you’re always in a continuous effort to improve your planning and response,” she said.

Cheri Hummel is an emergency management official in Sacramento who says while every hospital across the state has an emergency plan. The true test unfolds when disaster strikes. The goal is to keep hospitals functioning at their highest capacity during the height of mayhem.

“At the end of the day, it’s about saving your community, making sure people don’t get injured and don’t die,” said Hummel.

By the year 2020, every hospital in the state has to be secure enough to remain standing after an earthquake.

The UC Davis Medical Center is on track to meet that deadline.

More from Angela Musallam
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