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The Northridge Earthquake struck on January 17, 1994 at 4:30:55 a.m. Although considered “moderate”, with a moment magnitude of 6.7, it was the most costly quake in United States history – and the most damaging to strike the U.S. since the San Francisco quake of 1906.
The Guinness Book of World Records rates the earthquake at a 7.5. Damage occurred up to 52 miles away. Over 1,500 people were injured and 57 were killed. The epicenter was located at the end of Elkwood Street, just east of Baird Avenue, in the city of Reseda – less than one mile from Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
Some say it was a miracle that Northridge Hospital could be at the epicenter of the largest earthquake to hit Los Angeles in modern times – and still take care of patients.
Today, 21 years after one of the defining moments in the hospital’s history, the memories of those miracle workers – the physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly and courageously despite fear, aftershocks and personal loss – are still vivid, immediate, graphic, and personal.
“The staff was marvelous,” says Ron Rozanski, Senior Vice President of Operations, who has been at NHMC since 1976, “They just rolled up their sleeves and displayed the best teamwork in the history of the hospital.” It didn’t matter what their specific job title – switchboard operator, administrator, nurse or, in some cases, spouse of an employee – everyone pitched in to keep patients safe, care for victims and keep the hospital functioning to the best of its ability.
Among their significant accomplishments:
When the earthquake struck, the ER was nearly empty, but not for long. Soon, patients with lacerations, broken bones and/or sprains started arriving... as well as patients with chest pain and pregnant women having contractions – their symptoms caused by the acute stress of the quake. And, that was only the beginning.