Wounded Placerville man fears future PG&E shut-offs could hinder much-needed medical device

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PLACERVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) -- An around-the-clock medical device could help a Placerville man’s foot recover from an open wound but he fears Pacific Gas and Electric's shut-offs will only make his injury worse.

Tony Hughes was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which confined him to a wheelchair.

"I've has scoliosis surgery, a couple heart surgeries," he explained.

About two years ago, an injury left him with an open wound on his foot.

“My current podiatrist wanted to put me on a machine called a wound vac, vacuum-aided closure machine, to help close the wound,” Hughes told FOX40.

The device would have to be used around-the-clock for at least a month.

But with growing frustration surrounding PG&E's preemptive power shut-offs, Hughes said he fears the device will not be effective in the event of a future outage.

Currently, there are no medical exemptions for the so-called Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

It’s something that state legislators are hoping to change.

Sen. Steve Glazer recently proposed new legislation requiring utilities, like PG&E, to do more to help medically vulnerable people survive a power outage.

“We must also do all we can to help our residents deal with any power outages that do occur," Glazer said. "And that means ensuring that people can communicate with each other and that our most vulnerable residents do not see their lives threatened if the lights go off."

A spokesperson for PG&E responded to the proposed new legislation saying they "have not had an opportunity to review the legislation, and therefore have not taken a position on it."

While Hughes is weighing his options on whether it would be worth getting the device or not, he said he wants more accountability from PG&E when it comes to the disabled and elderly, as well as people who require power for medical devices.

“Communication and, above all, honesty. Let the people know what’s really going on,” Hughes said.

Glazer is expected to introduce the three new bills when the legislature returns in January.

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