Neither Snow nor Rain nor Derecho
Date: November 16, 2012
After a freak windstorm struck the Baltimore region last summer, a routine journey became a treacherous obstacle course for 36-year-old Henry Anderson, a driver for the Johns Hopkins Home Care Group. While delivering an urgently needed supply of intravenous nutrition to a patient, he encountered a downed tree and a tangle of power lines. That didn’t stop him. Once a work crew cleared a safe path for him, “I just walked there and made the delivery,” says Anderson, who has worked for the Home Care Group for seven years.
The patient later called to thank Anderson and commend him for carrying 40 pounds of IV parenteral nutrition to his home.
Known as a derecho, June’s storm came with no warning, felling countless trees and utility lines and leaving hundreds of thousands of Marylanders without power, including 70 Home Care Group patients who depend on electricity for life support. “It was a true test of our emergency preparedness,” says Penny Carey, director of medical and respiratory equipment services for the Home Care Group’s Pharmaquip division.
All patients received the care they needed after the storm and none had to be hospitalized or taken to the emergency department, a feat Carey attributes to Anderson and his co-workers. Although only four of 18 drivers were scheduled to work the weekend of the storm, all but one pitched in to make scores of emergency deliveries of oxygen tanks and other supplies throughout the Home Care Group’s service area. Over two days, Anderson put in more than 26.5 hours, greatly exceeding his usual weekend shift.
Although it took six days for power to return to all patients’ homes, Carey says the Home Care Group’s emergency service elicited “warm fuzzy feelings, especially for the drivers who had to step over downed trees while carrying refilled oxygen tanks and IV nutrition.”
Meanwhile several days passed before Anderson’s own home in Randallstown regained power. That, he says, was one more reason “to stay on the clock.”