I didn’t push the button…..

I work in a radiology facility. We do x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, MRI scans and mammograms. I work nights…with the radiologists, who read all the radiography films from all the ER’s in the state for a certain hospital group. No biggie. It’s an easy job, nothing much happens on my shift, which is graveyard.

Until last week. It is monsoon season here in New Mexico, and with that comes fabulous thunder and lightening and some rain..  Well, last thursday it was storming and right in the middle of that, we had a random power surge/outage. What was weird about this was that not all the power went out…only random spots: the computers on one side of our workspace, the camera monitors in our area, the parking lot lights, and different parts of the building. Because of this, some of the machines alarms started going off.

Now in a normal day, this is probably not a big deal….however, in the dead of night, when all is quiet, you can hear everything–like it is right next to you–regardless of where in the building it is.  After this happened, there was a supremely annoying alarm going off in the MRI area. So I wandered around the building checking things and making sure there weren’t any issues with anything else. When I got to the MRI area, the alarm was ear peircing (at least to my ears–I don’t deal with high pitched sounds well), so I hit the “system off” button to silence the alarm. This worked, even though I had to hit it a couple times and then go back a couple hours later to do it again as it had restarted its alarming.

WELL……what I didn’t know, what nobody had ever told me, was that if ANYTHING goes wrong with the machines in the building, we are supposed to make a phone call to a certain person, and not touch anything. Sounds fair, right? Well that would have been all well and good had I KNOWN this at some point!!!!

The only alarm I have ever been told about is the fire alarms…and only that if they go off, we had to do something in the breaker room (i have this written down somewhere). That is it. That is all I have ever been told about.  So when a random alarm goes off in the building and I don’t believe it is life threatening in any way, my common sense tells me to go make it stop.  So that is what I did.

On this machine there is also a giant red stop button. An emergency shut off button. That you push in an EMERGENCY. Do you see a pattern here? Giant red EMERGENCY stop button…that you push in an actual EMERGENCY.


Well, I think (I don’t know anymore though) that I am smart enough to know that a random alarm going off after a power outage is not technically that much of an emergency; there was no smoke, fire or odd smell of any sort.  But I guess I was wrong.

So stopping that machine resulted in a quench. A quench in an MRI machine is bad. All the liquid turns to gas and gets sucked out a hole or something so whatever is happening in the room does not explode or something. You can find an intelligent definition of a quench here.  Regardless, fixing this issue is a $100,000 +  repair by GE. Who knew?

HOWEVER–only pushing the RED stop button makes that happen they say.  I only pushed the blue button that says “system off”.  The red stop button is surrounded by a plastic lid with a sealed sticker. Which would mean that I would have to actually break the seal, lift the lid and push the red button in. WHICH I DID NOT DO.

My superiors think otherwise………

I may lose my job over this. A very costly mistake, that had I been shown/trained/discussed regarding, would not have happened.  I will keep you posted…

UGH.  Thanks for listening. Just needed to vent that out.


11 thoughts on “I didn’t push the button…..

  1. Oh no, I hope you have a real chance to share your side of what happened. I am sorry you are going through this right now.


  2. My husband is a Stationary Engineer, meaning he works with boilers, the air, water, etc in a large hospital. The other day at work, they lost power and five minutes when it came back on, well every alarm you can think of was going off, so I do know what you mean. Next he had to deal with all those phone calls as to why this and that is not working, plus reset all the fire alarms, etc.


  3. Pingback: So, that’s how it ends… | That's What Ron Said...

  4. Pingback: Of course they lied….Asshats. | That's What Ron Said...

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