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Ensuring oxygen during power outage

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- From the Carolinas to New England, medical equipment providers say they spent much of the past several days preparing their customers for Hurricane Irene.

Mark Richardson of Home MediService in Havre de Grace, Md., said his company received at least 58 Hurricane Irene-related calls during the weekend and the company made two dozen trips to visit oxygen users on Sunday.

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People who require supplemental medical oxygen often have it supplied by an electric concentrator. Having an adequate back-up supply that is portable and doesn't need electricity is essential during a power outage or evacuation to the health of the oxygen users, many of whom are Medicare patients, Richardson said.

EME Medical Equipment in Ephrata, Pa., put all delivery, clinical and management staff on alert for the weekend and lined up gas and liquid oxygen supplies, said Ted Gress, a registered respiratory therapist and operations manager at the company.

High winds and heavy rains produced power outages during the storm and the company delivered extra oxygen supplies to patients, Gress said.

Hundreds of home medical equipment providers nationwide take extra steps during emergencies caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, excessive heat, flooding, ice storms or heavy snow, Richardson said.

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