Alaska experts share advice on how to prepare home medical equipment for emergencies

Those who rely on life sustaining home medical equipment may find themselves in a situation...
Those who rely on life sustaining home medical equipment may find themselves in a situation without power. Experts offer advice on how to prepare in the event of an emergency to keep these devices powered.(ktvf)
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 4:07 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Many life sustaining home medical devices rely on power, and experts are offering advice on how to prepare to keep them operating in the event of an emergency.

According to Brad Colyer, COPD OSA Program Manager for Procare Home Medical, there are not many backup systems in place for equipment like this. “Life sustaining pieces of equipment like oxygen, ventilators, mobility devices such as power scooters, power wheelchairs, and then hospital beds are another item that would require some power.”

Colyer continued, “Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not pay for what you would call a backup system. Procare does provide backup oxygen for the patients that are on those devices in an effort to allow them time to get into what their backup plan would be in cases of emergency.”

Without much in the way of backups, there are some methods one can take to prepare for a disaster.

“I think the response starts before the actual emergency,” Colyer elaborated, “Thinking ahead can go a long way towards alleviating some of the circumstances you can run into in these emergencies. We always encourage our patients to get into the mindset of thinking ahead. What could happen, what are my plans going to be? Things like if you have a generator and enough fuel to power it for a couple of days. If we run into something like this, letting their utility company or the local fire departments know that they’re on life sustaining equipment ahead of time. Knowing where that patient could go if they were experiencing an extended loss of power. Having either family close or having neighbors you’re close to, knowing where a shelter is or things like that.”

Along with having a plan in place, preparation can also be key to making sure these devices can continue to operate until power can be restored according to Colyer. “If they have oxygen equipment, we would want them to make sure that any cylinders they have are filled. If they’re on battery powered systems, we encourage them to keep those batteries charged, especially if severe weather could be coming to your area. Those things should be charged up ahead of time. Same with the mobility device - if they’re on a power scooter or if they’re on a wheelchair, something like that you’d want to have full batteries.”

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