The importance of emergency response procedures to natural disasters.

In late September 2016, South Australia was plunged into darkness as a result of destructive winds knocking out three transmission towers in the state’s mid-north. As a result, thousands of properties across South Australia were without power for a number of hours, and in some cases, days.

At the Flinders Medical Centre in Bedford Park, south of Adelaide’s CBD, a back-up fuel pump failed an hour into the blackout, causing the destruction of embryos at the associated Flinders Fertility Clinic.

The Clinic promptly issued a statement expressing its sympathies to the families whose fertility treatments were affected by the “devastating situation” and offered the families new rounds of treatment at no cost

Comment

These tragic circumstances are a timely reminder to all health organisations that it is imperative to ensure that adequate business continuity policies and procedures are in place to respond to events such as severe weather, natural disasters and electricity failures. Such policies should address the regular maintenance and inspection of back-up generators.

Organisations should also review their insurance policies to ensure that they have adequate liability protection for these types of events, as the outcomes—as demonstrated in this instance—can be devastating and far-reaching. As at the time of printing, one South Australian personal injuries law firm was promoting possible claims for compensation.