Heavy-duty generators stand by to power TGH - FOX 13 News

Heavy-duty generators stand by to power TGH

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Nestled along some prime waterfront real estate, Tampa General Hospital's scenery also provides one of its biggest threats.

Storm surge, like in the case of a strong hurricane, remains a real danger. In New York, Sandy's flooding forced two major hospitals to close due to power loss. Nearly 1,000 patients were forced to evacuate.

In lower Manhattan, a failed backup generator forced New York University's Tisch Hospital to relocate more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care.

Dozens of ambulances lined up in the rainy night and the tiny patients were gingerly moved out, some attached to battery-powered respirators as gusts of wind blew their blankets.

"It is a worst case scenario for a hospital," said Janet Davis, TGH's Chief Nursing Officer

We took a rare behind the scenes look inside TGH and its tools to defend against a hurricane. Should a storm knock out the power, four heavy duty generators will automatically kick into high gear, each pumping out 1,500 kilowatts.

"We could power about one square mile of a residential neighborhood," said Oslec Fernandez, Director of Facilities Management.

They're 36 feet above sea-level. The hospital believes in the worst Category 5 storm, the water would reach 28 feet, well below where the diesel machines are located.

But what about locations that are up against the elements? The generator's fuel tanks are on the ground level, which would be underwater in a Category 2 or 3 storm.

"The fuel tanks can be underwater. They're strapped down to prevent floating, and they also have water tight connections," Fernandez said.

They have capacity to run for five to 10 days. If needed, TGH says it would move patients to the third floor and above to keep them safe.

Hurricane-proof shutters protect outside windows from debris.

"We have looked at every aspect that can impact patient care and how we will mitigate that," Davis said.

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