Evacuation of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in a Disaster: Lessons From Hurricane Sandy
NICU patients are among those potentially most vulnerable to the effects of natural or man-made disaster on a medical center. The published data on evacuations of NICU patients in the setting of disaster are sparse. In October of 2012, New York University Langone Medical Center was evacuated during Hurricane Sandy in the setting of a power outage secondary to a coastal surge. In this setting, 21 neonates were safely evacuated from the medical center’s NICU to receiving hospitals within New York City in a span of 4.5 hours. Using data recorded during the evacuation and from staff debriefings, we describe the challenges faced and lessons learned during both the power outage and vertical evacuation. From our experience, we identify several elements that are important to the functioning of an NICU in a disaster or to an evacuation that may be incorporated into future NICU-focused disaster planning. These include a clear command structure, backups (personnel, communication, medical information, and equipment), establishing situational awareness, regional coordination, and flexibility as well as special attention to families and to the availability of neonatal transport resources.
- Accepted September 24, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics