B.C.’s Mobile Medical Unit looks like a fairly average semi truck when its doors are closed, but once opened it’s clear the rig offers much more than meets the eye.
In a matter of minutes, the $5 million unit can be transformed into an emergency room on wheels,
“We could take on eight to 10 patients at once, depending on flow through and acuity. We also have a 100 person tent where we can treat minor injuries,” said Leanne Appleton, clinical operations director for the mobile unit, speaking at a Kelowna stop Monday of a provincewide tour.
“It’s very versatile. Wherever an 18-wheeler can go, we can go. We just need level ground to set up.”
The travelling package consists of a tractor and trailer with pop-out walls that make way for an emergency operating room and gurneys. Inside there’s portable ultrasound and X-Ray machines, not to mention its own oxygen supply.
The unit, which was purchased to go along with the 2010 Winter Olympics, is the only one of its kind in Canada, and just the second in North America and has yet to see its first emergency.
Instead, it’s on tour so B.C.’s six Health Authorities, which each pay an equal part of its $850,000 yearly budget, can get an idea of the scope of its capabilities.
Most importantly, perhaps, it can be dispatched to an emergency site within eight to 36 hours, depending on the distance to be travelled.
In addition to its on-the-road mobility, the MMU fits on a ferry, and in worst case scenarios, can be flown through the air to a destination in need. It can even be used at private functions, although Appleton said that “emergency trumps private events” whenever a conflict arises.