RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As we’ve already seen this year, severe weather can strike anywhere and at any time.

The National Weather Service not only issues watches and warnings to keep residents safe during these times but, has made it their mission to educate and prepare communities, schools and even hospitals through their”storm ready” program.

UNC Rex Healthcare  earned the National Weather Service’s “storm ready” certification over four years ago.

“Obviously, the hospital is a 24-hour operation and we’re a major part of the community’s well-being, so we take weather seriously,” said Alan Foster, the emergency preparedness manager for UNC Rex Hospital.

The National Weather Service’s main goal with their “storm ready” program is to make sure everyone has a way to receive their severe alerts and way to broadcast them to the people in their community whether that be a town, school or hospital.

“We enhanced our communication capabilities as well to notify staff, patients and visitors in a more timely manner,” Foster said.

When Rex Hospital was revising their plan to meet the storm ready requirements, they looked to other hospitals that have been hit such as the hospital in Joplin, Missouri.

It was through this devastation that the hospital learned the importance of giving their patients their shoes when activating their severe weather plans.

“With a tornado warning, we’re actually moving people out of their rooms and hunkering down,” Foster said.

Their preparations don’t stop there.  Dan Byer, the energy manager for the central plant at UNC Rex Healthcare, said with their generators and back up fuel supplies, they can keep the hospital running for more than four days.

“Because this is a highly sophisticated system, we can bring up the generators parallel to Duke Power, bring the hospital over on the generators and separate from Duke without the hospital even knowing it,” Byer said.

And this is very important when dealing with winter storms too.

“We’re not only looking at just tornadoes and severe thunderstorms but, winter weather is an issue for us too, getting staff in and out, supplies in and out, we have to maintain operations,” Foster said.RELATED LINKS