How does your hospital rate earthquake safety?

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) – Southern California’s “big”, experts will tell you, is not an “if” but a “when”.

And when that happens, the hardest hit areas will rely most heavily on places like hospitals and medical centers.

“Hospitals have unique building standards that are much stiffer and more complex than any other building,” said Liz Cochran, who is Adventist Health’s director of operations at Glendale.

Cochran showed Eyewitness News around the hospital campus, to see how buildings and staff are prepared to deal with a major earthquake.

“The operations: electricity, water, heat and air – everything you need to support and maintain your operations – would not be affected,” she said.

The key to seismic safety: Seismic reinforcements, which are structural additions to ensure buildings don’t collapse and utilities don’t break down.

“In a major disaster,” Cochran said, “this is where you want to be.”

But that’s not necessarily the case for other local hospitals.

There are nearly 1,100 hospital buildings scattered across Southern California, and not all of them are built to the same standards.

Click on the blue dots to view the rankings for each hospital, then click on the arrows to browse the rankings for each building.


The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development rates these medical buildings for seismic safety risk on a scale of 1 to 5.

One is deemed to have the highest risk of collapse and 5 – the lowest risk of collapse.

Of those 1,100 hospital buildings in Southern California, 376 were rated 1 or 2, which is more than a third.

“Our hospital is built to meet strict and rigid standards for earthquake safety codes,” Cochran said.

According to the state, Adventist Health Glendale has 15 buildings on its campus. Together, they score an average of 3.5 on the state scale.

Cochran said the hospital had enough food, water and fuel to operate at full capacity for five days. It also has a designated command center and staff are trained to follow an established protocol in the event of an earthquake.

Keep in mind that a place you don’t want to be during an earthquake is an elevator. Those from Adventist Health come with built-in earthquake protection.

When triggered, it takes the elevator to the nearest floor, opens the doors and locks.

It’s important to note that hospitals receiving lower scores on Seismic Safety Risk Assessment aren’t breaking any laws, but time is running out.

Most buildings with a rating of 3, 4, or 5 will not need to make any modifications to meet the requirements.

But, buildings with a rating of 1 only have until next year to make changes. Those with a rating of 2 have until 2030.

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