More than 200 seriously ill patients, including 20 babies, were forced to evacuate one of New York City’s major hospitals late Monday after the power went out.
The frantic exodus followed the failure of a backup generator, with dozens of ambulances lining up around the block outside New York University Tisch Hospital.
Doctors and nurses started with the sickest and youngest, many of whom are in critical care. Some were on respirators operating on battery power.
Children were seen being carried out of the hospital into waiting ambulances, while a mother was wheeled to safety on a stretcher as she clutched her newborn baby.
‘It’s a challenging situation,’ NYU Medical Dean Robert Grossman told WCBS-TV. ‘We drill all the time for this kind of thing. But this isn’t a drill. This is the real thing.’
Much of New York was plunged into darkness by superstorm Sandy, a monstrous hybrid that swept across the East Coast.
Without power, there are no elevators, meaning patients – some of whom are being treated for serious illnesses such as cancer – had to be carefully carried down staircases, said Grossman.
As the patients were evacuated, gusts of wind blew their blankets. Nurses and staff huddled around the patients, some holding IVs and other equipment.
About 45 of them were seriously ill, including children and babies in neonatal critical care.
The hospital complex is near the East River in an area of lower Manhattan, the scene of widespread flooding.
Bloomberg says a few parts of lower Manhattan still have power. He said there have been a large number of fires reported from downed power lines.
Patients were evacuated from Hoboken University Medical Center in New Jersey in anticipation of the storm.
Tens of thousands of people were ordered to vacate ground-floor units in the state’s coastal areas as 60million people living along the heavily populated North-East corridor braced for the onslaught.