Bristol Hospitals Trust relies on backup generators in the midst of critical incident 

Over the weekend, Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) declared a ‘critical incident’, after a power outage impacted services across hospitals in Bristol city centre.  

In a statement, Dr Rebecca Maxwell, interim chief medical officer at UHBW, said: “We have declared a critical incident due to a power outage. We aim to have this fully resolved as soon as possible. I would like to share with the public that every single patient, visitor and colleagues are safe.” 

The incident, which was caused by an electrical fault, saw the closure of some departments, and the diversion of some services to other areas of the trust. In a follow up Q and A session, Dr Maxwell added, “We have an emergency power backup generator that’s currently kicked in and supplying a lot of parts of the hospital. We are bringing more generators in to support that.”  

In the event of a power cut, backup generators systems are designed to be operational within minutes and can take over from short-term emergency batteries to power buildings and machinery over a longer period.   

In a hospital environment, this ensures that essential medical equipment, life-support systems, monitors, ventilators remain operational. They also ensure access to services such as heating and lighting, access to electronic medical records, and refrigeration of medical supplies.  

Paul Brickman, Commercial Director at Crestchic Loadbanks, commented, “This incident highlights the important role of backup power in hospitals and critical services. With people’s lives in their hands, most UK hospital trusts are well aware of the impact of a break in mission-critical power. Facilities managers at sites like this one know that having adequate backup in place reduces the risk to life and the potential knock-on effect of having to reschedule appointments in an already overstretched public service.”  

“The incident in Bristol serves as a timely reminder of the importance of ensuring that generators are kept in optimum condition, should the worst happen. This is particularly important in facilities like hospitals, where multiple generators may operate simultaneously. To ensure continuous operation, it is important that these systems, including fuel, exhaust, and cooling systems – are tested to make sure that they operate in the event of an outage. 

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