Disaster preparedness is the name of the game for engineers in California, who are in the midst of testing the stability of hospital buildings during an earthquake, The Verge reports. The engineers, from the University of California San Diego, are testing to see how not only an 80-foot-tall model hospital holds up to various degrees of shaking, but also how the technology inside the facility holds up under such conditions.
As part of a three-year, $5 million project, the engineers built a model hospital on rubber bearings and a shake table, which can simulate earthquakes. Rubber bearings, according to the article, are common for buildings in Japan. The model hospital also contains computer servers and lab equipment, as well as hundreds of sensors and cameras, according to an article by the Associated Press. Initial tests, which began in mid-April, found the bearings to be relatively effective at acting as a buffer for the quake's impact, according to AP.
Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City has also recently taken precautions with regard to disaster prep, opening its Center for Disaster Preparedness on April 27 on the third floor of LDS Hospital, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The center houses disaster situation simulators to help prepare providers for such incidences, and also can serve as a haven for patients in the event of a real emergency, either natural disaster-related or otherwise.
Disaster prep is an ongoing concern in the U.S. in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Irene (last summer) and Katrina (2005), and terrorist attacks such as the events of Sept. 11, 2001. A report released last month by the Office of the Inspector General found that nursing homes are not well-prepared to handle disasters such as hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Additionally, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago recently updated its facility to be more prepared in the event of bioterrorist attacks, deadly pandemics and industrial accidents.