Critical Power during Healthcare Emergencies

Medical science has advanced by leaps and bounds, and we now have access to excellent life-saving machines and well-equipped healthcare facilities if the need may arise. Hospitals act as our life support systems during times of crises as well as for general healthcare needs.  However, one critical machine behind all these machines that acts as a backbone and often goes unnoticed is a generator. In situations of power outage, vital power is imperative to keep life support machines and other critical tools running to sustain human life and this is where generators jump into the rescue by providing power backup. It is safe to say that hospitals almost always use generators for backup to ensure that systems keep running and procedures are not interrupted for too long. Every second can prove to mean life or death for some patients, and the faster power supply is restored, higher is the likelihood to evade loss of life due to equipment related disruption or malfunction.

While generators used to cause immense noise pollution earlier, they have now evolved to become ‘silent gensets’ owing to the milestone development of soundproof acoustic enclosures and are very much in demand across most process and manufacturing industries. The demand for generators in the healthcare market however is one of paramount necessity. Be it a thunderstorm or a general blackout, there always needs to be an assured alternative source of power to sustain medical operations and that is why generators used in the healthcare industry are typically different from the ones we find at homes etc. These gensets demonstrate much stronger capacity and calibre and are monitored more meticulously. The two main types of generators used for healthcare facilities are gas gensets and silent diesel gensets. While natural gas gensets are easy to keep up, many utility companies do not consider them to be real emergency service backup during loss of power. These generators also require regular fuel refills. Diesel gensets or silent gensets on the other hand can maintain power for an entire hospital for up to 8 hours on a full tank of diesel fuel. If enough fuel is stored at the site, these gensets can provide power backup lasting at least 24 hours depending on the size of the hospital and this is incredibly helpful as power outages can be unexpected and unpredictable.

In the absence of generators, life-saving equipment such as oxygen pumps, monitors and other crucial equipment can come to a halt and cause serious damage to the health and lives of patients being treated or in need of treatment. Silent gensets, therefore, ensure the safety of patients in immediate need of medical intervention by restoring power supply with little to no interruption and fortunately most hospitals today have solicited the help of generators for power backup. Another major issue associated with loss of electricity is the disruption in communications. Phones directly powered by electricity can be rendered useless during power outages and this may prohibit vital communication such as people in need being unable to contact emergency services. Loss of crucial data is yet another cause of concern arising out of such situations wherein millions of important documents, numbers, crucial information, records etc. can be permanently lost if servers go out even temporarily. This can lead to a massive crisis not only in the medical industry but also in sectors like retail, banking, and finance. Generators, thus, come to the rescue in more ways than one.

Advance Preparation for Natural Disasters

Climate change is leading to an increase in the number of natural calamities which are occurring in a rather erratic manner worldwide. Changing weather patterns are also making these disasters much more violent and turbulent, often causing extremely dangerous, high-speed winds, lightning, hail, and massive flooding. These disasters have the intensity to cripple emergency power and knock out numerous on-site power systems for critical facilities and one needs to be prepared to maintain emergency power and limit vulnerability. Power outages are quite common during hurricanes, floods, massive earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis etc. and are often accompanied by damage to power plants which can cut power supply for weeks at a stretch. In other cases, lightning can strike transformers and power poles can go down by high winds with repercussions lasting for days and a combination of these factors lead to what is known as a ‘power outage disaster’.

Therefore, having a generator for power backup also ensures lesser disruption to day to day activities when a natural calamity strikes, for instance, going out to get groceries may not be possible at such a time and having running refrigerators allows food to be stocked up and remain fresh for days. Amenities such as hot water supply, drinking water, radio, television etc. can also continue without much interruption. Even basic safety requirements during a calamity such as being able to keep lights on in the dark especially for children and the elderly reduces the risk of accidents, injuries and even crime.

As we experience a hike in the occurrence of such disasters around us, it is well understood why business and individuals alike have increasingly been investing in diesel gensets with a motive of having a reliable standby power source. Diesel generators or diesel gensets come with myriad benefits; they do not come with complicated wiring or spark plugs that need to be maintained and in the case of a power outage, one does not have to bother about troubleshooting or replacing parts. However, diesel is flammable and safety precautions must be taken to reduce the risk of fire. It is also advisable to change the oil filter, air filter and fuel filter of the diesel genset from time to time to ensure that it runs smoothly and no problems are encountered during crucial hours of need. Installing an automatic transfer switch is also a good practice so that the generator can automatically turn on as and when power loss occurs, causing minimal interruption. Safety guidelines for gensets also prohibit using them indoors as they can cause deadly gases to leak and should always be operated outside.

Silent diesel gensets are available in variants of HHP, MHP and LHP (high, medium and low horsepower. Among these, HHP generator sets are meant for critical standby duty in emergencies, black-outs, and prime power or peak saving applications in sectors such as banking, healthcare & Pharma, mining, power plants, government facilities, and large commercial reality. These gensets have low operation costs having a 500 hours / 1 year oil change period.

Need for a Cleaner and Greener Substitute

While it is established that generators provide crucial energy backup in the most critical of emergencies, ease pain and inconvenience and are life saviours in many ways, one cannot overlook the fact that they are not a clean form of energy and cause harmful carbon emissions. Alternative sources of renewable energy and clean power backup systems thus need to be explored and should eventually replace diesel generators. Clean and affordable energy is the need of the hour and we must commit to it and invest in research and development of renewable energy-based machines and technologies.