Mobile Field Hospital Can Deploy to Disasters in Hours
For millions of people, those words have real, heavy meaning. The paralyzing fear brought by major catastrophe is not simply the loss of possessions. These disasters often snuff out even the basic structures of a region’s health care system. It’s massive loss piled upon loss, piled upon loss.
It can be completely overwhelming, and people become desperate for any light of hope.
Extending a Hopeful Hand
In times like this, International Medical Corps stands ready to say, “We are here to help.”
First Responders to crisis and conflict around the world, our teams are committed to being on the frontlines of a disaster, no matter when and where that disaster strikes.
The hundreds of doctors, nurses and health workers we have on our volunteer roster are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice in the aftermath of a disaster. And once they arrive, they travel by plane, helicopter, boat, canoe, donkey, bike or foot to reach the often-remote communities at the epicenter of a crisis.
I deployed with our teams in the Philippines in 2013, and I was there when our mobile medical teams were on the move shortly after Typhoon Haiyan making landfall.
In those early hours of a disaster response, as a logistician, my number one concern is getting people and things to where they are needed most to ease suffering and save lives. I need to make sure that the lifesaving supplies our teams need to do their jobs are ready when they hit the ground.
One of the things we have is our portable, fully functional Emergency Field Hospital that can provide trauma and medical care after a disaster.
When fully deployed, the hospital has a 60-bed capacity; 12 medical shelters that take up nearly a football field; and weighs some 50 tons.
It has shelters, medical equipment, supplies, generators, water and sanitation facilities and all of the backup systems required to provide surgery and medical care in the most remote corners of the world.
It’s amazing – and for those in urgent need, lifesaving.
It was originally designed to meet the needs of the largest disasters with mass casualties – like the Haiti 2010 earthquake.
But a disaster the scale of the Haiti earthquake hasn’t happened since the hospital was created. And since the Field Hospital wasn’t configurable to a smaller version, it was never deployed to smaller-scale disasters. It has sat in a warehouse in Idaho; its beds not filled with patients.
Giving the Field Hospital New Wings
How could we reshape the Field Hospital to provide care not just in the largest disasters, but also in small and medium-scale disasters?
We turned to logistics experts at FedEx to help make the hospital more flexible and adaptable.
FedEx team members traveled with us to the hospital’s storage location in Idaho, to understand its size and capabilities.
They brought experts in charter aircraft, warehousing, dangerous goods, preventive maintenance, and rapid deployment.
They came to Washington, DC, rolled up their sleeves with our emergency response team and took part in a two-day table top simulation, where we were presented with a variety of disaster response scenarios, working in painstaking detail to figure out how we would quickly deploy the hospital in the aftermath of a disaster.
We developed the best plan for making the Field Hospital as helpful to as many people, as frequently as possible, in a variety of sizes.
Now we are moving the hospital to a FedEx warehouse next to the FedEx World Hub in Memphis, where the FedEx fleet of aircraft is based. This way the hospital is staged closest to the planes, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.
This work revamping the Field Hospital is priceless. It means having the confidence that we have a trusted team with the skills and expertise to get the hospital to the frontlines.
It means I know my colleagues – the doctors and nurses who drop everything to respond – will have the tools and resources they need when they hit the ground.
International Medical Corps has the experience and a record of being on the ground within 48 hours of an emergency. In 2010, we were on the ground in Haiti within 22 hours of the earthquake. And in Nepal in 2015, our health workers were headed toward the remote epicenter of that country’s earthquake in less than 24 hours.
Ultimately, this work means that together, we are saving more lives, wherever and whenever it’s needed most.
Click here to download video b-roll of the Field Hospital being loaded and transported from Idaho to Memphis, and read more about the Field Hospital on Medium.
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