Federal officials tour Disaster Readiness Unit

January 24, 2008 5:56:04 PM PST
Thursday WakeMed's campus showed off its state of the art disaster response equipment.

WakeMed provided the tour to visiting federal health officials who were in town to see how the Triangle-area is utilizing federal grant money.

"What we have set up today is our entire mobile hospital," Dale Hill, WakeMed, said. "There are eight of these around the state in trauma centers."

One piece of WakeMed's Disaster Readiness Unit was on display. It was purchased in part with federal grant money and is the first of its kind in the country.

Each tent is equipped with heating and air conditioning, running water and all the basic, necessary medical equipment. So it provides most of the essential functions of a free standing hospital.

"If there were a long term care facility, or hospital damaged by a tornado, because we have our own generators, heating, air, we could go in and take are of patients," Hill said.

It's expensive, but impressive and Rear Admiral Craig Venderwagen agrees. He's the assistant secretary for preparedness and response for the U.S. Department of Health.

He leads the nation in preventing and responding to emergencies and disasters.

"[It's] always hard to figure out how much insurance do we want to have," Venderwagen said. "We know natural disasters N.C. has been hit in the past with flooding. We know from Katrina there are issues. These will occur the question is how prepared do we want to be. I think after Katrina people were clear they want more."

The tents pack up into a truck which also functions as sleeping quarters for staff and a mobile command center.

The disaster readiness team is ready to deploy at a moment's notice.


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