A view of the exterior of the emergency department at the Arrow Lakes Hospital. (File photo)

Nakusp hospital staff praised for response during emergency

Power generator failed on New Year’s, but human spirit didn’t

An official with Interior Health is praising staff and suppliers after a power generator failed at the Arrow Lakes Hospital early on New Year’s Day.

“Our staff was phenomenal in terms of the responses they had,” says Barbie Kalmakoff, IH’s director of clinical operations for the area that includes Arrow Lakes Hospital.

Kalmakoff says the emergency generator at the hospital kicked in about 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, in the midst of a heavy snowstorm that knocked trees into power lines. Power was out in Nakusp for more than 12 hours as a result.

But the emergency backup didn’t last.

“The generator failed about 3:00 in the morning,” she says. “It turned out a water pump wasn’t working properly, which caused the generator to run too hot, knocking it out.”

Kalmakoff says the generator is checked regularly and was tested just a week earlier. It’s also been in use occasionally as renovations are done to the emergency ward at the hospital.

The hospital’s maintenance man came in and briefly got the generator working again, but it didn’t last. The hospital would have to try to operate without power.

“Staff appeared on site, knowing the power was out, without us having to call them in, to support the staff that was working,” she says. “So that’s really a phenomenal response.”

Even more remarkable, the one source for a new generator in the region answered the phone on New Year’s morning when the hospital rang. United Rental in Genelle had a spare generator, and were able to ship it up to the facility that day.

That allowed the power to get up and running again by about 3 p.m. the same day. Interior Health’s chief electrician, who was also on holidays, came in to effect the repairs.

Kalmakoff says patients weren’t affected by the power failure, and plans to move long-term care or emergency room patients who needed care were cancelled once the new generator was secured.

“We didn’t lose heat, and we managed with some lighting in the system,” she says. “And luckily, there were no car accidents or significant events occurred, but they had plans in place to manage that as well.”

The extra staff who came in helped keep patients company and comfortable until power returned.

“It really speaks to the human spirit and I can’t thank people enough who helped us out with that,” she says. “The staff are just so ingenious how they did that, and just a lot of teamwork.”

Kalmakoff says the bill for the new generator hasn’t come in yet.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Kootenay teams heading for curling provincials

Team Buchy and Team Nichols won the senior playdowns.

Latest winter storm prompts West Kootenay travel warning

20-30 cm of snow expected overnight and into Thursday

PLACE NAMES: Valley of the Ghosts

A ghostly nickname haunts the stretch between Kaslo and New Denver

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

Most Read