Power outages plunge Lower Manhattan into darkness, as seen from Brooklyn. Photo: AP Photo: Bebeto Matthews
When Hurricane Sandy struck the east Coast of America on Monday night, things turned bad quickly. A huge storm surge sent water coursing down the streets of Manhattan, submerging electrical substations and causing the lower half of the city to lose electricity. NYU Langone Medical Center had chosen not to evacuate all its patients before the storm, not predicting the heavy flooding that would occur.
"Things went downhill very, very rapidly and very unexpectedly," Dr. Andrew Brotman, senior vice president and vice dean for clinical affairs and strategy told CNN. "The flooding was just unprecedented."
With the basement and elevator shafts filling up with water, the hospital then lost power. Back up generators kicked in, but with that soon failing, medical staff had to make the deicion to evacuate patients, despite the flooding and gale force winds outside. At least twenty of those patients were newborn babies from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), some relying on respirators to breathe. I can't imagine being a parent separated from my sick baby while reading reports of the hospital evacuation, it's a nightmare scenario. Thank goodness the hospital staff remained calm and competent as they evacuated to babies to waiting ambulances.
This footage shows a nurse manually pumping air in to baby's longs after carrying the baby down nine flights of stairs by flashlight, about to be transferred to an ambulance on route to another city hospital.
If anyone ever deserved a bravery award, I think the NICU nurses from NYU hospital are pretty deserving. Although there’s no update on the condition of the transferred patients, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there have been no storm-related fatalities at hospitals.
The hospital plans to upgrade its generators during upcoming renovations.