Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mobile ER

Excerpted from the Charlottee News Observer. Sounds like what the Iowa team (yesterday's blog) will be doing.

GULFPORT, MISS. -- A team of North Carolina doctors and nurses is trying to heal the wounds of this mauled city.

In sturdy, light-brown tents next to Gulfport's Memorial Hospital, doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical personnel are caring for hundreds.

"We are able to set up a small field hospital or emergency room in austere conditions," said Dr. Roy Alson, a leader of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team, which is based in Winston-Salem and draws volunteers from across the state.

Conditions in Gulfport, choked with its own rubble and suffused with the stench of disaster, could hardly be more austere. But the tents, despite their mesh windows and flap entrances, have just about everything a normal emergency room does except an X-ray machine. There are defibrillators and EKG machines.

The MASH-style outfit works under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After disasters, the 35-person group deploys and assembles the self-sufficient field hospital, which has its own power and water. The outfit can last three days without resupply.

The doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacist, logistical support and administrators replace a medical facility or supplement one. In this case, North Carolina volunteers are helping with a crush of patients who straggle in to the hospital.

Usually, the hospital's emergency room sees about 125 patients daily. That number surged to 400 beginning Tuesday, the day after the storm that killed more than 100 people in this state.


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