Lessons learned from the evacuation of an urban teaching hospital

Christine S Cocanour, Steven J. Allen, Janine Mazabob, John W. Sparks, Craig P. Fischer, Juanita Romans, Kevin P. Lally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: Valuable lessons can be learned from the emergent evacuation of a large urban teaching hospital because of flooding. Design: Case report. Setting: Four hundred fifty-bed adult and 150-bed children's tertiary referral teaching hospital. Case Summary: Massive rainfall from tropical storm Allison caused extensive flooding. Emergency power came on at 1:40 AM. Complete power loss occurred at 3:30 AM. The decision to begin evacuation of patients was made at approximately 10:30 AM. All 575 patients were either discharged from the hospital (169 patients) or evacuated (406 patients) to 29 other facilities by both ambulance and helicopter by 3 PM the next day. Six deaths occurred, none of which could be attributed to the conditions created by the flooding. Conclusions: The lessons learned from this experience included the following: (1) flooding will occur in a flood plain; (2) electrical power outages are not necessarily temporary-begin evacuation; (3) appoint a triage officer from those available; (4) have a reliable in-house communication system not dependent on telephone lines or electricity; (5) have a reliable telephone system for contacting outside facilities; (6) have flashlights available on all units; (7) have battery-operated exit signs and stairway lights; (8) maximize use of volunteers when they are available and fresh; (9) maintain a paper record of all patient transfers; (10) coordinate loading of ambulances and helicopters for patient transfer; and (11) reassign staff as necessary to care for transferred patients. Emergent evacuation of a large, tertiary hospital requires extensive effort from both the hospital staff and the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1141-1145
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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