In 2003, a software bug found in the alarm systems (in Ohio) caused the whole northeastern part of the United States to go dark. This historical blackout affected all northeastern states of the United States including New York, Michigan, Detroit, Ohio, New Jersey, and parts of Ontario (Canada). Like all other services, healthcare services were suspended too.
Lack of backup battery power supply caused disruption in critical and emergency medical and healthcare services including:
- Loss of heating & cooling services in critical areas of a hospital
- Loss of light throughout the units including emergency surgeries (ongoing & upcoming)
- Respiratory devices and other critical electronic devices stopped working
- Suspension of elevators
- Losing access to electronic data for patients, and the inability to register new ones, and many more.
A backup battery power supply is the need of the hour for every professional sector today. But healthcare institutions need them the most because it’s literally a matter of life and death.
Given the state of power supply in the US, we cannot rule out the possibility of another blackout again in the near future. Even if things don’t go as far, there are numerous other possibilities of power interruption like:
- Brownouts: Brownout refers to a reduction in voltage. As a result, the power supply is weakened and results in the low power supply. Issues like dimmed lights or slow speed in fans can occur and when the situation is too severe, some electric equipment like air conditioners or desktops might just refuse to operate at all. If you have a backup battery power supply, you wouldn’t have to worry about these things at all.
- Power surges: Uneven voltage results leads to a power surge in the main grid lines. It is the opposite state of a brownout, where the voltage is suddenly too high. Though power surges do not last for long, without a stabilizer, a sudden increase in voltage can cause permanent damage to the running machinery.
- Spikes: When power surges are caused by lightning, it is called a spike. This can also be detrimental to the electrical equipment and cause severe failure in the operation of critical pieces of machinery.
Backup battery power supply is essential for healthcare establishments. Even though most of the healthcare institutions feel that they should have some kind of backup battery power supply, they are yet to get one for themselves.
There are two main types of backup power sources available in the market.
- Backup Power Generators: They are generally installed where the requirement is very high. Their scale of operation is large. However, backup power generators do have some downsides. Generators run on fuel which is quite costly for small and mid-sized healthcare establishments. They also need a large area for setup and storage. However, they are very efficient as a backup power supplier and are chosen by a large number of commercial institutions including healthcare institutes.
- Uninterruptible Power Supply: They are not as large scale power supplier as generators but acts a bridge. The UPS size and capacity can vary between powering a single desktop computer to powering a multi-storied office. When the main power grid stops supplying electricity during a blackout, the UPS jumps in and instantly starts powering the equipment attached to it to stop them from shutting down even for a second. The UPS provides power supply long enough for the generators to kick in and take up the load. There are two types of UPS in the market. One is the Online UPS which supplies power without interruption. Another one is the Interactive UPS which has an inverter and works alternatively with the original power supply channel, i.e. when there is a disruption in the mainline, the interactive UPS starts working.
Having a backup power generator or backup battery power supply has two main advantages:
- Uninterrupted Supply of Electrical Power
Interruption in power supply can be a serious problem in healthcare institutions. It can lead to critical and life-threatening conditions for patients. The whole system is dependent on the power supply, without which, not even a simple elevator, a life support machine, or a data-keeping computer can be operated. Interruption in power supply means paralysis for the healthcare system. So, having a backup power generator can be a life-altering advantage. With a generator or a UPS system, the healthcare providers can put their full concentration on their patients, without any disturbance. Even if the main power supplier falters, the backup supplier will easily save the day.
- Protection Against Power Supply Disturbances
As discussed earlier, brownouts or power surges are common issues in power supply that can occur at any time without any warnings. While brownouts will prevent a lot of healthcare devices to work properly or performing below their capacity, power surges can cause serious damage to the running devices and render them permanently inoperable. Expensive and critical devices in healthcare institutions can thus get ruined completely. With a backup battery power supply, in times of such disturbances, the power supply can be switched to the backup system from the main system, and thus, situations like this can be avoided.
Having backups for power supplies in healthcare institutions are as important as having good doctors in the hospital. Without a backup power supply, the whole system becomes useless and dysfunctional.