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

West Kootenay couple escapes Spain – safe, sound, and in self-isolation

BC couple Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health to host virtual town hall Friday, March 27

The Q&A forum begins at 6 p.m. PDT, link in story

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read