The idea of a mobile or field hospital isn’t entirely new in the medical sector.  As temporary medical setups, they’re often installed near combat zones. This mobile facility is also used during emergencies like natural calamities, pandemics, and anywhere they’re needed. 

Stand-alone tents can be connected and built beside a larger health facility with several wards. They have a more extensive setup than temporary medical stations but are smaller than permanent health facilities. Field hospitals have limited equipment, but here are a few that needs to be present per facility: 

  1. Defibrillator 

A defibrillator is a piece of medical equipment that sends an electric shock into a person experiencing arrhythmia or cardiac arrest. There are numerous types of defibrillators, and each works in different ways. The most common are manual defibrillators and automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Here’s the difference between the two: 

  • Manual defibrillator: This kind of equipment is typically used by trained professionals. Manual defibrillators are more complicated to operate than other defibrillator types.  With them, medical professionals can adjust the energy level or shock to the patient’s need. Manual defibrillators aim to restore a normal heartbeat when the patient is in an emergency or critical situation. 
  • AED: An AED is usually found in public areas such as offices, gyms, malls, and schools. Anyone can use an AED during an emergency. This equipment has a guide that shows the steps on how to use it. It works by sending an electrical shock to help the heart regain its normal rhythm. 

Defibrillation is an important part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Every mobile field hospital needs a defibrillator to help shock back a person’s normal heart rhythm.  

2. Patient Monitor 

A patient monitor is a device used to display, measure, and record the patient’s vitals. These vitals include the heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation, and more. Monitoring a patient’s vital signs is essential because of the following reasons: 

  • Heart rate: Measured by the number of pulses per minute (BPM). Its reading is mainly used to establish a patient’s baseline pulse. 
  • Blood pressure (BP): The measure of the force or pressure of the patient’s blood in the arteries as it circulates throughout the body. A normal BP is 120/80. Someone with hypertension has a result higher than 140/90, while a patient with hypotension has a BP lower than 95/60. 
  • Temperature: A body needs to be in a normal temperature range to be able to function properly. A human body’s normal temperature is 98.6ºF (37ºC). However, there are studies that show a body’s ‘normal’ temperature can range from 97ºF (36.1ºC) to 99ºF (37.2ºC). Patients with high temperatures indicate that they have a fever or infection.  Factors such as age, environment, and emotional state are considered while assessing a person’s temperature. 
  • Oxygen saturation: This vital sign is also known as O2 sat. It refers to the amount of oxygen carried by the hemoglobin in the blood. A reading of at least 90% oxygen saturation level is needed. Regular monitoring of a patient’s O2 sat is vital to avoid hypoxemia (low blood oxygen level), which can lead to organ damage. 

Patient monitors are needed in a field hospital as this equipment help monitor and record the patient’s vital signs over time. 

3. Portable X-Ray Machine 

Technically, a portable x-ray machine is a smaller piece of equipment than the ones available in an extensive medical facility. You can move it from one place to another. It’s usually used in facilities such as field hospitals. Here are some benefits of a portable x-ray machine: 

  • Portability and mobility: Essentially, this functional equipment has wheels, allowing the medical technologist to move it quickly and easily. 
  • Safety: There’s lower radiation exposure from a portable x-ray machine because of the shield mounted in front of the device. 
  • Speed and image quality: The x-ray results of this equipment become available in less than 20 minutes. Even in such a short time, it produces high-quality images because of its high-tech features. 

A portable x-ray machine is safer to use and able to provide clearer images that can help examine different parts of the body, such as bones and joints. 

4. Electrosurgical Units 

An electrosurgical unit (ESU) is a piece of medical equipment used for cutting tissue to control bleeding by generating coagulation. An electric current is passed on and received through electrodes and used to cut and coagulate tissues during a surgical procedure. The ESU has a monopolar and bipolar setting. Here are their differences: 

  • Monopolar technique: This mode uses a single electrode that’ll also act as a neutral active electrode. When this comes in contact with the affected tissue, a high current density level is passed on. It’s suitable for drying up large tissue masses. 
  • Bipolar technique: This method is transmitted through an electrode that exits through a neutral electrode without passing through the patient’s body. 

These ESUs have many functions and settings that can be useful in mobile hospitals. 

5. Sterilizers 

Sterilizers are needed to decontaminate equipment and instruments used in a mobile hospital to prevent the spread of infections. The most common sterilization process is autoclaving. It works by using heat to destroy spores, bacteria, and other microorganisms. The pressure allows the steam to reach a high temperature to achieve steam sterilization. 

Disinfecting and sterilizing before and after procedures done in a medical facility are needed to avoid transmitting bacteria from one person to another. Not only will it protect the patients, but also the medical staff present in the hospital. 

Final Thoughts 

Field hospitals may be temporary medical setups, but they still need essential equipment like the ones listed above. They play a significant role in helping and treating patients with different medical problems. Devices like the defibrillator, patient monitor, portable x-ray machine, electrosurgical units, and sterilizers are necessary and must be present in any mobile medical facility. 

Each piece of equipment is designed to provide a particular treatment or procedure to a patient. It’s a must to maintain these devices regularly to ensure that they function properly and provide correct results.