Backup generators would help prevent evacuations, fire chiefs say

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Nursing homes place a major strain on the emergency medical system when they are forced to evacuate to hospitals. When winter and summer storms hit last year, facilities in the St. Louis area without backup generators turned to hospitals for shelter, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.

"We almost collapsed the EMS system," said Rob Wylie, chief of the Cottleville Fire Protection District and president of the Greater St. Louis Area Fire Chiefs Association.

Nursing homes in the St. Louis metropolitan area are not required to have backup generators and, as a result, need to evacuate when power is lost. With the cost of retrofitting a nursing home with backup generators in the six-figure range, many providers are unable or unwilling to the investment. Fire officials have suggested at least wiring facilities so they are able to accommodate borrowed generators.