News | August 26, 2007

California Unveils World's Largest Mobile Civilian Hospital in Preparation for Major Disasters

August 27, 2007 — The California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) at its 2007 Rough & Ready disaster medical field training and demonstration Aug. 25, unveiled one of California's three new 200-bed mobile hospitals, the largest civilian medical response facilities of their kind, along with other new medical assets to respond to major disasters.
"When disaster strikes, being prepared is key to saving lives,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “The state's new mobile field hospitals and our trained volunteer emergency responders are going to help prepare California to quickly and effectively provide emergency services during a major medical disaster."
The addition of the hospitals continues California's commitment to providing additional medical surge capacity to local communities in the event of natural disasters, a pandemic flu outbreak or other mass casualty incidents.
As part of Rough & Ready 2007, California showcased the mobile hospitals and hosted a week of intensive training for more than 400 volunteer emergency responders at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. The base provided an ideal backdrop for one of the largest emergency response trainings the state has seen. In an area spanning five football fields, crews and equipment simulated a major southern California disaster. Within posed disastrous conditions, emergency responders from across the state pulled together to show their ability to bring order to the most chaotic of situations, while fine-tuning their crucial patient treatment skills.
The fully functional 23,000-square-foot mobile hospital is able to provide extensive medical services, ranging from emergency/triage to surgery and intensive care.
Other highlights included a California Air National Guard C130 transport aircraft with a fully equipped airlift team. There was a dry run with state-of-the-art field medical capabilities including surgery, radiology, laboratory and intensive care services with specialized mobile medical equipment including ventilators, monitors, diagnostic equipment and portable oxygen delivery systems.
The California Medical Assistance Teams (CAL-MAT), which are activated to support local mutual aid requests during a state of emergency, were deployed for training. Members from each of the state's three teams are rapidly deployed and arrive onsite to treat patients within 12 hours of being dispatched. The teams are able to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Their specialties include medical base camp operation, staff support for an existing facility, hospital or nursing home evacuation, medical shelter operation, and mass immunizations or prophylaxis.
Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT), federally sponsored teams, which are activated to, support local mutual aid requests during a state of emergency, also trained. Each of the state's six primary teams are able to be self-sufficient for 72 hours. Their responsibilities include triaging patients, providing austere medical care and preparing patients for evacuation. In addition, California has a DMAT mental health specialty team.
Ambulance strike teams with Disaster Medical Support Units (DMSU) also trained. These teams provide a rapid, organized, self-sufficient response of ambulances, medical personnel and interoperable communications to meet emergency medical transportation needs.
"In California, it's not a matter of if a disaster will strike, but when," said Cesar Aristeiguieta, M.D., director of Emergency Medical Services Authority. "Rough & Ready 2007 is the culmination of the efforts put forth by agencies and organizations committed to ensuring quality patient care, even in the most disastrous of situations."
As a national leader in medical emergency preparedness, California relies on strong public-private partnerships. Rough & Ready 2007 brought together not only volunteer emergency medical responders, but also disaster medical response teams, representatives from the California Department of Public Health, California Highway Patrol, California National Guard, National Disaster Medical System, Office of Homeland Security and the Office of Emergency Services.

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