An important aspect of hospital operations is to prepare for the unexpected, a catastrophe that can cause a major disruption to patient care. All hospitals plan for such things, and then we do drills.
Today's drill took place in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The scenario required an evacuation of two dozen newborns to another floor. The elevators worked at the start but were then simulated to go out of service, so some babies had to be put in baskets and carried down three or four flights of stairs to another nursery. Their life support systems and medications had to be in place the entire time.
I present a short video of some of these scenes. It felt very real. You quickly forget that the "babies" are dolls (as shown in the early frames, complete with simulated medical histories). A more comprehensive video was made of the entire exercise, observers were keeping notes, and there will be a full debrief for the entire staff. My inexpert opinion, though, was that people did a really good job. Especially when you consider (last frame in video) that the real babies still needed to be cared for during the whole exercise.
I later learned, too, that there is a dearth of literature on NICU evacuations. Given hurricanes and tornadoes, you might think that there would be generally accepted standards for dealing with this particularly vulnerable population. A member of our faculty plans to write up this experience and contribute to the literature on the topic.
If you cannot see the video, click here.