When Kyle White or anyone on his team comes across a shovel, generator or anything that could be useful in an emergency situation, they're quick to grab it. As the interim senior manager of facilities maintenance and operations at Lions Gate Hospital, he and his team have been steadily building up a shipping container full of items that can be used in the case of a major emergency at the hospital.
The shipping container, filled with a mix of items like generators, pumps, traffic cones, vacuums and maintenance supplies, is part of the larger effort by Lions Gate Hospital to be disaster ready; be it a flood, power outage or an earthquake.
“As far as emergency preparedness, we just basically had a list and went through the list to see what kind of stuff would help us… stuff we could use in a worst-case scenario," White said, adding his goal is to completely fill the container with doubles of everything the hospital might need. “I want to keep adding to the storage container until it's jammed packed fully of supplies so we have a little bit of everything in there to use."
The 30-foot container is currently housed across the street from the HOpe Centre and offsite from LGH. White explained the reason for the location outside of LGH is to ensure accessibility if something happened to the hospital in a disaster.
The container was a collaboration between Tim Kelly, the Director of Operations and Facilities with VCH, and Jasmine Radic, the Coordinator for Acute at LGH with Health Emergency Management B.C. (HEMBC).
Radic explained in the event of a major incident, like an earthquake, the container allows the facilities and maintenance team to do a rapid damage assessment of any structure, while providing supplies to access the building, or to help open spaces and rescue people in a full or partial collapse.
“It's really important because it allows them access to the site and to tools and supplies regardless of what's happened on the campus," she said. “And where the container is located, there is nothing to fall on it or block it. So it's fully accessible."
Radic also noted the container is just part of the overall emergency-preparedness strategy at the hospital. HEMBC is also working on a mass casualty plan, including staging a Code Orange exercise at LGH in April.
But having a container full of supplies doesn't mean much if you don't have the personnel to use it when an emergency strikes. White explained there are protocols in place to draw on local tradespeople who live close to the hospital to come help during an event.
“The more you start thinking about it, the more you want to get the site prepared for whatever it can handle," he said.
While the team is constantly reviewing the hospital's emergency preparedness, White pointed out the site has a particular vulnerability with only two bridges connecting the North Shore to the mainland.
However, some of that exposure will soon be reduced significantly. In a few weeks, two oxygen concentrators will be up and running at the site. These concentrators will allow the hospital to make its own oxygen rather than relying on buying and trucking in bulk oxygen. White said the new concentrators will help increase the hospital's self-sufficiency.