92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 5:00 PM
Weather Risks to Hospital Buildings and Healthcare Continuity
Room 333 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Wendy Marie Thomas, American Meteorological Society, Washington, DC

In 2010, Munich Re identified 960 natural catastrophes that occurred that year across the globe. About ninety-five percent were of an atmospheric/oceanic origin, while close to 5% were geologic. Despite the growing atmosphere/ocean threats to society, many critical infrastructures, like hospitals, are more commonly built or retrofitted for seismic events than for the more common weather/water events. Hospitals, in particular, have been shown to be susceptible to three primary means of weather-exposure: 1) generator failure due to flooding, 2) shattered windows from wind-tossed projectiles, and 3) destroyed elevator crankcases from high-velocity winds. Destruction of these (and other critical structural elements) can lead to mass evacuations, loss of life, and magnify the chaos caused during response efforts. Further, the loss of a hospital (which is expensive to rebuild or repair) has been shown to cause a drag on recovery efforts to rebuild communities. There are opportunities to protect these critical infrastructures, however, through structural mitigation against weather vulnerabilities. This talk, therefore, will address the common weather vulnerabilities that hospital buildings most commonly face, and what can be done to fortify these critical infrastructures, through multi-disciplinary teams, with relatively minimal effort and costs.

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