While the classic television show M.A.S.H was a fictional account, it portrayed a mobile medical unit in the Korean War based on real medical units that saved many lives over the course of the conflict. By moving medical care to the front lines, those mobile medical units brought the care directly to the patients.
More than just a relic of a television era gone by, mobile medical units are still useful today. In the state of Alabama, seven mobile hospitals have just been completed that can provide care for as many as 50 patients at once.
In 2011, 240 people lost their lives after a tornado swept across Alabama. Nearly 300 were injured across the state, overwhelming medical services and preventing them from providing appropriate care. These mobile hospitals could act as triage centers in the case of another major storm, providing support and coordination to relief efforts and saving lives in the process.
The hospitals can be used for more than just storms. These mobile medical stations are equipped with a week’s worth of supplies and constructed out of inflatable tents that can be quickly erected anywhere. They are capable of supporting everything from localized disease control efforts, to treating victims in a mass-casualty situation like a fire, earthquake, or explosion.
Medical professionals in Alabama hope that by scattering the seven different hospitals across the state, they will be able to quickly and easily respond to a disaster scenario and provide appropriate care. In the case of another situation like the tornado’s in 2011, the state of Alabama now has the tools to prevent being overwhelmed again. Nowhere is immune to mass casualty situations, and emergency situations are difficult to predict and control. States everywhere would do well to follow Alabama’s example and construct their own mobile hospitals in the hopes of reducing casualties in hard times to come.