Haiti: HOWTO set up a plug-and-play hospital - Doctors Without Borders


14 Responses to “Haiti: HOWTO set up a plug-and-play hospital - Doctors Without Borders”

  1. Richard says:

    Well the NYT says that is because the Scientologists were allowed to land instead:

    Update | 6:49 p.m

  2. Anonymous says:

    For almost two weeks I was amazed that no mention had been made of inflatable hospitals in Haiti. I only recently found information on the Internet about the MSF inflatable hospitals used in Pakistan and finally being deployed to Haiti.

    In 1965 I was in the United States Army Medical Service Corps and stationed at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

    During the summer of 1965, I was in charge of demonstrating a completely self-contained inflatable hospital to, as I remember, members of the American Society of Applied Physics, highly ranked United States military officers, and highly positioned federal government officials.

    As I remember, and that was 45 years ago, those inflatable “Quonset hut” units were 20 feet wide and 60 feet long. The units were designed so that they could be attached directly to adjacent in-line units or at 90 degrees by using an optional fabric connecting chamber, which also could be used as an entrance air lock or decontamination chamber.

    The units or “huts” were made up of contiguous 14” or 16” diameter tubes. Each “tube” was independently attached to manifolds on both sides of the unit, which insured the unit would remain erect in the event one or more “tubes” were punctured. There was no interior or exterior supporting structure or loose fabric. Heated or cooled air was delivered to each unit by flexible hoses attached to a fabric semi-circular zippered-opening manifold, which ran lengthwise inside the top of the unit.

    Each 20’ x 60’ inflatable unit was packed in a 4’ x 4’ x 4’ reusable shipping container.

    The gasoline powered inflation pump and electrical generator module was also packed in a 4’ x 4’ x 4’ reusable shipping container. The third shipping container contained the heating and air conditioning unit. And finally, the fourth shipping container held all the supplies and equipment necessary to do in-the-field emergency surgical procedures.

    Although I did not see the fifth module, I was told it contained the portable x-ray unit and film developing equipment. All modules (filled shipping containers) weighed less that 400 pounds and were designed to be lifted and moved by four men.

    These modules were designed to be delivered by pickup-size trucks and helicopters and, as I remember, could also be parachute dropped from transport aircraft.

    Essentially all you had to add was gasoline and doctors. Beds were optional and the packing containers could be used as operating tables under extreme conditions.

    I personally helped set up this demonstration hospital in the gymnasium of the Walter Reed Army Hospital. Since we could not run a gasoline engine inside the building we used a small, very old household vacuum cleaner to inflate the unit. The whole set-up took four people less than two hours, not the 48 hours that MSF inflatable hospital requires.

    It is shocking to me that this technology, which is more than 45 years old, is only now being “rediscovered”. I suspect that the United States military has these Inflatable Hospitals packed away and forgotten in a warehouse somewhere.

    It could be, however, since military evacuation of the wounded has improved so much in 45 years that patient stabilization and transportation to permanent medical facilities has made these Inflatable Hospitals obsolete for our military.

    Thanks to MSF for all the good work you are doing everywhere.

  3. pKp says:

    OMG, Scientologist (and priests) have priority over doctors now ? RRRAGE!

    Also, this guy is a hero. Wish I could do something other than giving money, but I don’t have any skill they could use.

  4. Thalia says:

    I’m awfully curious what about my comment about the Israeli Defense Force’s field hospital, set up a week ago, was considered worthy of deletion. MSF doesn’t mind competition, they encourage it. It doesn’t denigrate MSF’s well known achievements to mention that they are setting up now, a week and a half after the quake.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ Thalia
      Hmm, MSF aren’t “setting up now, a week and a half after the quake.”, they already had something like 4 hospitals over there, from day one…

      @ Crab Canon
      It was ‘nice’ to see the israeli military attaché doing cynical PR job in the middle of this disaster, seeking and asking journalists to come and see how good they are, etc. Some people have definitely no shame, or must really have a serious international community image deficit to resort to that kind of pathetically cynical PR campaign…

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I’m awfully curious what about my comment about the Israeli Defense Force’s field hospital, set up a week ago, was considered worthy of deletion.

      That comment is in a different thread.

  5. Crab Canon says:

    The Israeli field hospital was opened in Haiti about 48 hours after the earthquake. The Israeli team of 220, including 40 doctors, 20 nurses and paramedics arrived from Israel and had the hospital set up and accepting patients in Port-au-Prince just as the Jewish Sabbath came in on the evening of Friday Jan 15th .

    This repeats what happened in the deadly 2001 Gujarat earthquake in India, when the Israeli field hospital was also in the Indian quake the first field hospital to arrive. In fact, in 2001 at Gujarat, the Israeli hospital was the only hospital open in the disaster zone for over a week until the Red Cross set up a second one. The Israeli hospital also deployed for the big Turkish quake in 1999.

    The mobile Israeli hospital including all its equipment weighs just 10 tons including its own generators and water purification so it is totally self sufficient and fits inside a single 747 cargo plane, which is why the Israelis are able to deploy their hospital into disaster zones so much faster than anyone else. The Israeli hospital is constructed of simple standard issue canvas army tents, not inflatables, but has an ICU complete with life support, surgeries, imaging, neonatal etc. It takes about 8 hours to set up and can treat 500 patients a day.

    Video of the Israeli hospital equipment being loaded onto the 747 the night of January 14th in Tel Aviv

    CNN, Jan 17th at the Israeli hospital treating patients in Port-au-Prince

    CBS News, Jan 18th at the Israeli hospital

    ABC News, Jan 18th at the Israeli hospital

    NBC News, January 19th at the Israeli hospital

  6. Phoenicks says:

    Xeni, thanks for posting this. This is the organization I chose to support financially and I love seeing how effective their work is. Like the poster above, I wish I could go help but just don’t have any usable skills.

    As to the delay being because of the Scientologists? If it’s true I cannot convey the rage.

  7. wispsmoke says:

    Wow, Xeni, good job getting an interview with a busy man doing good works!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m wondering about the logistics of this fine center. MSF complained a lot about not being given a direct landing into PAP. Did they have ground transportion for the equipment standing by? How long does it take to offload the package from the plane? How many people? Any special equipment needed? How long would their aircraft been on the ground? Would the aircraft have required fuel to depart? One would think that this facility would have had some priority. I’m trying to uderstand why it was waved off.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A fine interview with an incredible organization

  10. Anonymous says:

    it was waved off because the Americans and representatives of the Haitian government changed their focus to food and water. Food relief is the number 1 priority according to them and saving lives got dropped.
    It is the triage question. Who is worth saving? Who is the easiest to save?
    Ugly questions but in a disaster zone someone has to make the hard choices.
    300,000 injured vs 3 million starving..the needs of the many etc etc

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