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State Has New Emergency Response Tool

by Indiana State Department of Health on July 31, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS—Today the Indiana State Department of Health hosted the last of three trainings statewide to prepare emergency responders on how to set up and utilize the State’s most recently acquired resource for responding to disasters and other emergencies—a mobile hospital unit. The training took place at Decatur High School in Indianapolis. Other trainings have been held in Allen and Ripley counties.   

The mobile hospital unit consists of three, 26 ft. trailers, each containing two structures with generators, HVAC systems and basic hospital equipment. The three trailers can be deployed separately or together as one large unit that can accommodate up to 50 patients. 

“When a natural disaster strikes, access to medical care is often in desperate need, but short supply due to things like lack of transportation, power outages and hospitals being overwhelmed,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. 

“The mobile hospital unit can be deployed to support local healthcare personnel and emergency responders when and where it’s most needed.” The mobile hospital unit is a multi-purpose structure that can be used as a vaccine clinic, triage site, casualty collection point, volunteer management site, donation management site or to meet a wide variety of other needs. The State Health Department plans to deploy some or all of it when local facilities’ capacity becomes exceeded and they request support. It was purchased through Western Shelter Systems.  

“The mobile hospital unit is a much needed resource that will help ensure Hoosiers get the information and care they need during an emergency,” said Lee Christensen, Director of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response at the State Health Department. “These units would have come in handy during the 2008 floods, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, or following the tornadoes that hit the southern part of the state in 2012. Unfortunately, we know there will be a time when a resource like this will be needed again and we want to be sure they will be utilized to the greatest extent possible.” 

In addition to practicing set-up and tear-down of the structures, the trainings aimed to strengthen the State Health Department’s relationships with local volunteers, educate volunteers about all other emergency response resources available, and generate interest among the State’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). MRC volunteers are registered through the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers for Indiana (SERV-IN). SERV-IN is an electronic registration system and database of local, regional and statewide volunteer programs who want to assist Indiana’s public health and healthcare systems during an emergency event or disaster. 


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