Skip to main content

ANMC prepared for earthquake safety

December 6, 2018

Recent earthquake activity in Anchorage had ANMC and Anchorage residents thinking about earthquake safety. This article was pulled from the Mukluk Telegraph archives.   When it opened on November 29, 1953, the Anchorage Medical Center of the Alaska Native Service was the largest civilian building in Alaska. The hospital experienced a great deal of change in its first 11 years in downtown Anchorage, but few things altered the facility more dramatically than the 9.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Alaska on Good Friday of 1964. The earthquake caused a handful of deaths around the state and significant damage around Anchorage, particularly to downtown buildings and infrastructure. There were also large and small landslides around the Anchorage bowl. Then known as the Alaska Native Hospital Anchorage, the building sustained serious damage, particularly in its concrete support beams. And it narrowly avoided a deadly disaster — the hospital’s north wing missed a landslide by a few hundred feet. Following the earthquake, the general cleanup, plastering and painting was completed within a few months, but it took two full years to complete all of the structural repairs to the damage caused by the earthquake. That work mostly consisted of placing steel plates over damaged concrete to stabilize the structure. Today, the Alaska Native Medical Center hospital is one of the safest places in Anchorage to be in the event of a large earthquake or natural disaster. According to Robert Wilson, ANTHC’s longtime Director of Facilities Services, the hospital was designed to withstand a 9.5-magnitude seismic event and was intentionally built in the UMED area, which is one of the safest seismic locations in the Anchorage bowl. In addition to being a safe haven during an earthquake, the ANMC hospital is also equipped for survival in the days following a catastrophic event. Onsite are:
  • 100,000 gallons of potable water storage, including 40,000 gallons reserved for fire emergency
  • Three 1,250-kilowatt emergency electrical generators for power
  • 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel to be used in the event that natural gas or grid power is no longer available
  • One 3,000-gallon primary, and one 300-gallon reserve, cryogenic (liquid) oxygen tanks
  • Three high-pressure steam boilers, dual-fuel fired to use natural gas or diesel fuel
  • One 5,000-gallon sanitary sewage holding tank to be used if gravity flow is lost on existing sewage lines
  That’s enough reserve essentials to keep ANMC running for up to five days in the summer and up to 3.9 days at 20 below. “So, the bottom line is given the structural design, as well as these other on-site emergency capabilities, ANMC in my mind is the place to be,” said Wilson. “Not to mention that we have a great staff that is really well-trained and will have high confidence if a situation were to occur.” How to prepare for an earthquake (From the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more info at
  • Secure items such as televisions and objects that hang on walls.
  • Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On with family and coworkers.
  • Create a family emergency communication plan that has an out-of-state contact.
  • Make a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least three days, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher and a whistle.
  • Consider earthquake insurance policies.
  • Consider a retrofit of your building if it has structural issues that make it vulnerable to collapse during an earthquake.
Download earthquake safety tips from FEMA by clicking here.

Share this story

Sign Up For Our Newsletter