NYU Hospital Staff Are Amazing, Evacuate Patients In The Middle Of The Storm

NYU Langone Medical Center was evacuated late yesterday evening when the backup to its backup generator failed, leaving the hospital without power.

Nurses and doctors evacuated around 260 patients in the dark, carrying some down as many as 17 flights of stairs, CBS News reported.

Among the evacuees were 20 newborns, four of whom were connected to breathing tubes. “Each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby’s lungs,” CNN reported. 

Photos of long lines of ambulances leaving the hospital showed up on Twitter around midnight.

The hospital’s basement, lower floors, and elevator shafts filled with 10 to 12 feet of water yesterday evening, according to senior Vice President Dr. Andrew Brotman, who spoke with CNN. When power went out, the hospital’s back up generators kicked in. But within 2 hours about 90% of that power went out again.

According to CBS, water flooding over the FDR drive took out not only the backup generator but the backup to the backup generator, which was located in a low, quickly-flooded floor.

About 1,000 nurses, doctors, medical students, police and firefighters worked to evacuate the hospital. CBS News’ Jonathan LaPook was inside, and filed this report of the staff’s incredible effort:

Many patients were too sick to walk down the narrow staircase to the lobby. They were painstakingly carried on plastic sleds – one by one – by teams of four to five people from as high up as the 17th floor.

At 12:33 pm today, ABC 7’s Rob McMillan tweeted that all 300 patients have been successfully transferred to other local hospitals. In a press conference this morning, Mayor Bloomberg announced that neither the NYU hospital nor Coney Island hospital, which was also evacuated, had suffered any casualties.

UPDATE [1:15pm]: NYU Hospital’s board of directors knew that the generators were “subpar and at risk” before the storm hit, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs, is a trustee of the hospital. He told Bloomberg Television that the backup generators were neither up-to-date nor well-placed, adding, “That’s all very well-known by the board of directors of NYU.” The hospital is in the middle of an effort to raise $3 billion for upgrades, according to Cohn.

UPDATE [2:20pm]: The storm liveblog at NY Daily News reports years of scientific research were lost when the power went out at NYU Hospital last night. The Smilow building on East 32nd St. lost power at 8:30pm, likely destroying “many precious reagents — special enzymes, antibodies, DNA strands — generated by scientists and stored at -80 degrees and -20 degrees.” 

Thousands of mice used for cancer research, many of them genetically modified, drowned during a flood in the building. They were the product of research that “took years to produce,” reports the Daily News (see entry for 2:02pm).



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  1. KellyAnn S. says

    God Bless & Kudos to the Drs, Nurses, Students, NYPD & FDNY personnel for not only risking their own Lives & Safety to safely Evacuate all of those Patients, but for pulling it off w/o a glich or single casualty. As far as Christine Quinn immediately placing blame on NYU Hospital for ‘knowing’ before hand that the generators, sump pumps & backup generators were @ Risk Why not wait for the dust to settle & the sure to follow investigation and it’s official report before pointing a finger @ anyone w/any ‘certainty’ when No One could possibly be ‘CERTAIN’ of fault this early on under the circumstances! First of all NYU is undergoing a great deal of Construction/Renovations right now! How could you or ANYONE @ this juncture KNOW that the ongoing Construction, it’s equipment & crews (scaffolding, temp walls, excavating, blasting etc) didn’t cause or contribute to the Hospital’s Emergency B/U Systems, Generators, Storm/Flood Pumping Equipment’s failure or it’s power system & cables? You Don’t! As a patient of NYU (in fact I was discharged JUST BEFORE Sandy hit full force) I can assure you NYU @ least the Physicians, Surgeons, Nurses, Medical/Nursing Students, Patient/Physician Aides, or ANY of the reg. Staff for that matter would NEVER have knowingly or Intentionally put their patients, themselves + yrs & yrs of medical research, in that degree of danger or risk! There’s NO WAY this extremely dedicated medical staff, intentionally set themselves up for the possibility of having to personally & physically evacuate their entire hospital, from helpless newborns to incapacitated Seniors & every one in between, in 12′ flood waters! Literally risking their own Lives & Limbs & Everything NYU has always worked for towards advancing Medicine in everyone’s best interest! The few greedy @$$es on the Hospital’s Board & in the Banking Institutions that have hands in NYU’s finances; Possibly, but don’t forget the construction crews & the CITY’S inspectors that are responsible for overseeing such construction for such safety issues!