Disaster planning, huh? Yeah, it’d be good to have a disaster plan. It’s hard to do in real life, when you’re trapped by the realities of a budget cycle. You know? Whatever we plan, whatever we think is the right thing to do for the long term, there’s also this reality that Vila Health HQ expects us to hit certain monetary targets and we have to not only factor that into any idea about disaster planning, but also have to focus on hitting those targets rather than sitting down and, you know, making a plan.
I try to do things in my own way as much as I can. For critical supplies in the building, I work to build as much of a cushion as the budget process will allow. Same for critical facilities; if we can financially make it work to make something redundant, I do it. It’d be great if this was more formally planned out and not a case of me stashing away a cache of saline solution when I can, but you deal with the reality you have and not the reality you wish you had.
This is all a response to that damn derailment, of course. God, that was a mess. I was new to this position then, still trying to clean up the disaster I’d stepped into. My predecessor, well, Ed Murphy was a great golfer but not much of a long-term thinker. Across the board, we had enough supplies for the next week’s normal operations and nothing more. Ed had read some book about just-in-time inventory and was all excited about how efficient that could make us. And that kind of efficiency’s great if you’re running an assembly line, but it doesn’t work so well if you have a hospital and something unexpected comes up, like an oil train jumping the tracks and blowing up.
I’d just started to build up some surplus supplies when that happened, nowhere near enough. We burned through supplies at a terrifying rate that night. Especially bandages and blood plasma. It didn’t help that the floor staff were just running around like crazy trying to treat people as they came in, not putting any thought into prioritizing who got what. I’m not blaming them, they were doing the best they could in a tough situation. But it meant that we were out of plasma for a while until Jackie Gifford from Fargo Methodist drove in with a truckload of replacements for us. It was like that all night, making frantic calls to hospitals and agencies all over the area, trying to get supplies. And keeping an eye on the fuel situation for the hospital generator, since the fire took out power for half the town.
God, what a mess. Took us six months to clean all that up. So disaster planning? Yeah, I’m all for it.