Emergency management curveballs: Influx or evacuation?

One of the local (to me) stories that I’ve been following involves the recovery efforts of Signature Healthcare Brockton (Massachusetts) Hospital following a devastatingly complicated electrical fire last year. As you might recall, I worked at this hospital when I was but a lad (or as much of a lad as you can be after 23 or so years, but I digress) and my wife had recently retired from working there. The diminished capacity of the facility has had a fairly significant impact on healthcare in the local area, but there are some indications that the hospital will be returning to full(ish) service sometime over the next few months.

The summer issue of NFPA Journal features a podcast covering the fire from the perspective of the incident commander for the response efforts, Brockton Fire Department Chief Brian Nardelli. The chief’s portion of the podcast lasts about 35 minutes and is well worth your time. Chief Nardelli’s description of the response efforts, including the importance of effective compartmentalization, is very informative—and illuminating. Sometimes it takes the “real world” to make your points. During the podcast, Nardelli referenced an article he had written for Fire Engineering Magazine, which is also worth a read. Although this is all “known” stuff, the intelligence one can glean from hearing first-hand accounts is worth it. I know we have a habit of being able to figure out how best to respond in the future as we engage the response, but those lessons learned in the field—priceless!


About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Chartis Group. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is an advisory board member for Accreditation and Quality Compliance Center. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.