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B.C. makes use of Mobile Medical Unit

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – A high-tech Mobile Medical Unit that acts as a mini-hospital, and was previously deployed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, has been acquired by the B.C. Ministry of Health at a cost of $5 million.

Health Minister Michael de Jong, in partnership with the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), recently demonstrated the Mobile Medical Unit, which is unique to Western Canada and will be used to improve emergency service delivery across the province.

“It is exciting to see firsthand the state-of-the-art technology used by the Mobile Medical Unit,” said Health Minister Michael de Jong. “It will be used in communities across the province to maintain medical capacity when needed.”

The Mobile Medical Unit’s primary role includes emergency and/or post disaster response to any region in British Columbia. Additionally it is able to replace lost ambulatory or emergency room service capacity, such as in the case of an emergency department closure.

The unit can also be used at large public events in order to provide assurance to families that they have access to the best medical care, should something unforeseen happen while they are attending leisure activities. The first deployment of the unit was August 12 at the Abbotsford International Air Show in partnership with Fraser Health Authority, St. John Ambulance and the BC Ambulance Service.

The Mobile Medical Unit is very flexible with both its form and function. The configuration of the unit is dependent upon the needs of the situation. The unit has capability for providing support and patient care in a variety of situations, ranging from attending to minor ill and injured patients up to higher-level acuity of care, such as critical care and emergency surgical intervention.

Another important feature of the unit is its self-sustainability. It contains its own power, oxygen and waste systems. The unit can be connected to a hospital’s shore power, city water and waste systems, allowing medical staff to be self-sufficient for up to three days.

PHSA will maintain the unit and is working with emergency response planners, clinicians and other stakeholders from the health authorities to implement the operating plan for its use throughout the province. All health authorities will have equal participation in accessing and shaping the future use of this mobile medical facility.

Over the next several months the Mobile Medical Unit and staff will travel throughout B.C. to increase awareness and to educate and train local staff and physicians about its capability. As well, staff will work with each health region to build upon existing emergency contingency plans in order to integrate an operational unit when appropriate.

• The Mobile Medical Unit consists of a 15.9-metre tractor-trailer, which can expand to a 90-square-metre unit with 12 beds.

• The larger unit includes a recovery/triage area and intensive care unit, as well as an operating room with two independent surgical beds.

• A support trailer will also be stocked with 72 hours worth of surgical supplies and other equipment.

• A smaller trailer carries a tent large enough to provide additional capacity to support patient care.

Posted August 25, 2011