Connecticut Department of Health Responds to Two Alarm Fire at Local Hospital

NEW LONDON, CT - On August 11, 2009 at approximately 10:00 AM, a two alarm transformer fire broke out at Lawrence & Martin Memorial Hospital in New London, Connecticut.

As firefighters worked to put out the flames, hospital officials began evacuating the emergency room, canceling surgeries and transporting patients to other nearby hospitals. Officials, faced with electricity and air conditioning outages in several parts of the building, also called the Connecticut Department of Health for assistance.

DRASH ECUs set up outside of the Lawrence & Martin Memorial Hospital.At around 2:30 in the afternoon members of the Department of Health arrived with four mobile Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) environmental control units (ECUs). The ECUs were originally purchased from shelter manufacturer DHS Systems as part of the State’s 14,000 square foot Ottilie W. Lundgren Mobile field hospital in 2005.

Len Guercia, Operations Branch Chief of the Connecticut Department of Health, who took part in response efforts at the hospital, says this is not the first instance in which equipment from the State’s field hospital has been used to assist local-level departments.

“We’ve used the field hospital for applications that we never dreamed of when we first purchased it,” he says. “A lot of the equipment from the hospital has been configured so that it can be used in a number of situations.”

Personnel remained onsite overnight to cool the hospital’s emergency department, allowing hospital staff to use the space as a temporary holding area for patients evacuated from other parts of the building.

By Wednesday, Lawrence & Martin Memorial Hospital was recovering from the fire and planning to reopen its emergency room at midnight Thursday morning.