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March 20, 2019 | The News-Review
The night the lights went out in Roseburg, backup generators kept the lights and equipment on at CHI Mercy Medical Center.
After the snowstorm hit on Feb. 24, the hospital lost electrical service for just less than 24 hours, from 1 a.m. Feb. 25 to about 12:30 a.m. the next day. That was much less time than most residences and businesses in the area, but the hospital still needed backup power for life support equipment and other essential machines, and it had it, thanks to some large generators that can keep the vital equipment running for several days if needed.
When the hospital has to go to generator power, it will run about 40 percent of everything in the hospital.
Boswell said the hospital was lucky to only have the power off for a day, but they are always prepared for about 30 days if necessary.
Mercy has two 800 kilowatt generators — a primary and a secondary. There is also one 500 kilowatt generator that is dedicated to running just the surgery center.
When the power went out, Allen said the generators did what they were supposed to do.
“They didn’t miss a beat,” he said.
A 15,000-gallon tank stores diesel underground and a 200-gallon tank that sits by the generators is automatically filled from the larger tank.
“(The system) burns about 500 gallons a day and with 15,000-gallon tanks, we can run up to 30 days on what we have,” Taylor said.
If the fuel tanks would get to the point where more diesel is needed, the hospital is at the top of the priority list.