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911 - Close to Home

December 23, 2008
by Joe Bormel
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911 - Close to Home

911 - Close to Home

Water Main Break Observations



This morning, just before 8 am, about one mile from my home,

an incident occurred. We noticed that our water pressure disappeared. A quick check within the hour to our water company's web site and phone-in call center were non-informative. The magnitude of the disaster became clear:

Now, less than 3 hours later, there are more than 600 news articles about it, cited on Google News.

- no deaths or serious injuries reported (fear of drownings and hypothermia were well founded)

- initially, 135 million gallons of water, per minute; two hours later, still 65 million gallons per minute flooding from a break in a 66 inch pipe. The pipe was 44 years old; is that good or bad?

- local hospital, Suburban, in Bethesda lost its water supply. Tanker trucks are on the way; porta-potties have been brought in. Thank you local news teams ... more than most of us wanted to think about! (temperatures were in the teens, now 21 degrees F)

- about a dozen cars required passenger rescue by helicopter and swift-water boats. The passengers were in swift water in freezing temperatures. News reporters noted new ice frozen on the sides of some vehicles. One car was washed into a small, existing river.

What does this mean to us? Yesterday, in a comment to Daphne Lawrence's blog post,

Wireless in Healthcare, I made a related comment. About 24 hours before this blog post. In that comment, I included pictures from Google Maps on various mobile devices. My point was that consumers are, more and more, getting great information via WiFi that's much more powerful and effective to solve everyday tasks. Like learning about local threats and disasters.

Guest Wireless access is more effective than cellular phone browser information, in terms of reliability, speed and bandwidth. The rising utility of WiFi, as well as the demands of a disaster on Healthcare Provider organizations are highlighted for me by this event. I'm grateful to those organizations who have been able create community WiFi access in their health systems. Connectivity, like oxygen, is problematic when it disappears!

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