State sets up a mobile field hospital at March
By Will Alexander, 452 AMW Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2008
MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- For the first time since the mid-90s, there was a fully functional hospital at March ARB.
The 200-bed mobile field hospital (MFH), one of three owned by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), began setup Sunday and became the nerve center for a week long training event sponsored by the Office of Homeland Security. March is the Regional Training Site for this year's EMSA Field Training Event.
Although the training is being conducted in conjunction with Golden Guardian 2008, it is a completely separate real world exercise. The MFH training is designed to make sure that the EMSA's medical resources, equipment and processes are catastrophe ready, according to Ann Bybee, event director.
"The mobile field hospital would only be deployed in a real catastrophic situation," said Bybee. "It could be a pandemic flu, where our hospital capacity is overrun, or, it could be to replace hospitals that were damaged or destroyed in an earthquake - it would be something along those catastrophic events."
Modeled after the Air Force Expeditionary Medical Systems, the MFH provides a mix of intensive care, emergency department, medical/surgical and obstetrical/gynecological units.
"We've got operating rooms, a laboratory, and a pharmacy," said Bybee. "It's got all of the high-tech biomedical equipment, an X-Ray, lab - everything you need to run a fully functional hospital."
It took 16 semi-trucks and a CHP escort to transport the MFH from Santa Clara to March ARB, according to Bybee. "If we were to mobilize for a real-world event," she said, "we would have that same CHP escort. We put that into practice, and got them engaged into what we would do."
Bybee said when the state bought the three MFHs about a year and a half ago, part of the agreement was to bring one of them out every three years for three years.
"That's so we can set them up, check them out, and make sure the state got what it purchased, but then to make sure that everything is functional."
The other two are stored in Central and Southern California.
Training event planners arrived on March Nov. 7 to work out final details with members of the 452 AMW and the 163 RW. On Sunday, the Mission Support Team, who functions much like March ARB's Emergency Operations Center, had staff begin setting up the MFH, and it was fully operational by Tuesday.
On Thursday, members of the Hospital Administrative Support Unit (HASU) and the California Medical Assistance Team (CAL-MAT) conducted a full day of training, tours and demonstrations for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Riverside County officials involved with Golden Guardian 2008.
They'll have a public event where tours and demonstrations will be conducted for about 200 people involved in emergency and disaster response from throughout the state.
WHO DOES WHAT?
MISSION SUPPORT TEAM (MST)
Trained emergency management professionals activated by the California EMS Authority to provide logistical support and administrative overhead to other EMS Authority deployed field medical resources.
CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSISTANCE TEAMS (CAL-MAT)
Professional and para-professional teams activated by the California EMS Authority to provide care under austere disaster conditions.
HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT UNIT (HASU)
Trained hospital administration professionals activated by the California EMS Authority to meet a variety of critical roles for the administration of the Mobile Field Hospital MFH).
DISASTER HEALTHCARE VOLUNTEERS OF CALIFORNIA (DHV)
Pre-registered, licensed healthcare professionals ready to volunteer during a disaster.
SOURCE: Ann Bybee, EMSA Event director