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UPDATE: Power Outage Caused Neillsville Man's Death

NEILLSVILLE (AP) -- Authorities say a storm that rolled through central Wisconsin was a factor in the death of a man in hospice care.

Clark County emergency management director Michelle Hartness says the unidentified man died after the storm knocked out power to his oxygen machine. Hartness provided no other details.

Emergency responders and hospitals say it’s important for families and individuals to have a back-up plan if someone uses a home oxygen unit or other medical equipment.

“We also send them home with a back-up emergency cylinder,” said Melanie Allee, a respiratory therapist with Aspirus Hospital. “It lasts about 17 to 20 hours. So it gives them that emergency back-up oxygen. And they're instructed how to disconnect from the one that's plugged into the wall, and connect to the home cylinder, which actually just turns on like a faucet.”

If no back-up plan exists, or if an individual doesn’t have anyone home to help turn on the back-up emergency cylinder, Allee says calling 911 can always be a last resort.

“But it takes time for an ambulance crew to get there and we may not have the necessary equipment or necessary power to bring whatever he needs back online,” City of Wausau Fire Chief Gary Buchberger said.

Buchberger says it’s ultimately up to patients to talk with their doctors about what is the most appropriate back-up plan.

“I think it's incumbent upon all households if they have a specific or a unique situation, that they understand what's required to maintain it, and what are some different back-up plans that would work for them,” Buchberger said.

Generators can also be used if the power goes out.

Two people were injured in the storm, which knocked a home from its foundation and destroyed barns and sheds.

The National Weather Service says an apparent tornado touched down near the Clark County community of Chili about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The weather service plans to survey the area Wednesday.


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