The raging bush fires in Australia’s New South Wales region are affecting local power and telecommunications systems in large parts of the impacted area. Local government and Police Services issued alerts to local residents that “all telecommunication services, including mobile phones and internet, will cease between Nowra and Mourva on the night of Tuesday 12/31/2019 due to ongoing bush fires. This will affect hospitals in the area.” The Minister of Communications stated “Many of the outages are due to power supplies being cut off, and in some cases are the direct impact of fire on network infrastructure” The outages were expected to last for a number of days.
Australia’s current crisis highlights the need for healthcare systems to plan in advance for how they would continue operations and communications in the event of significant infrastructure failures that may impact entire regions in a disaster. In this case, the loss of landline, cellular, and internet services highlights the interconnectedness of today’s network infrastructure and stresses the need to think about emergency communications at multiple levels. To help local healthcare organizations prepare for such incidents check out the PUSHECS website’s “Ideas and Concepts” Page for information on Resiliency Planning and the use of PACE Plans with links to information and resources.
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