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Friday, November 12, 2010

We Win! L.A. Has More High Earthquake Risk Hospitals Than S.F.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge The SoCal sickly are fare more likely to die in collapsing hospitals than San Franciscans
  • The SoCal sickly are fare more likely to die in collapsing hospitals than San Franciscans

Red-staters may fantasize about San Franciscans perishing in The Big One. But a recent California Watch report identifying which hospital buildings have the highest known risk of collapse suggests we get to fantasize, too! Los Angelinos -- at least the ones stuck in hospitals -- will be at an outrageously high risk of snuffing it in the event of a major earthquake.

Four of the high-risk hospitals making the list are in the San Francisco Bay Area, sure. But 10 are in greater L.A. Take that, SoCal.

In earthquakes, as in other natural disasters, it's the ill, wounded, and other immobilized people in hospitals at greatest risk of death. Readers taking issue with our gloating at the prospect of Los Angelinos perishing en masse under collapsing hospitals should go back to Southern California where they came from.

According to the theory of plate tectonics , San Francisco and Los Angeles will drift adjacent to each other in 15 million years. Until then, though, we'll revel in their every misfortune.

For out-of-town readers too lazy to integrate local prejudice into their day-to-day sensibilities, here's how things work here: Southern California, a blur of plastic surgery, celebrity rehab, and diabolical Republican politicians, wouldn't exist if it weren't robbing water and other resources from Northern California. It's a sprawling, smoggy, soulless hell hole that true Northern Californians do not visit unless under extreme duress.

According to California Watch's hospital story, "Officials discovered serious structural weaknesses at more than a dozen hospitals, but they have taken few steps to notify the public." Even setting aside the weird, and seemingly universal, journalistic convention of writing "more than a dozen" even when a precise number such as "14" is available, we have to say the smart, hard-working author Cristina Jewett missed the pith of this one.

According to Jewett:

State authorities and hospital officials have discovered serious structural weaknesses at more than a dozen hospital buildings, but they have taken few steps to notify the public about the facilities nor have they required a detailed inventory of hundreds of other potentially dangerous sites.

"State authorities and hospital officials," is another way of saying "Sacramento bureaucrats." Sacramentans, like the good people of Winters, Alturas, Fort Jones, and other Northern California towns, long ago resolved in the negative this question: If a hospital falls in Southern California, and no Northern Californian is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

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Matt Smith


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