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The UK’s first mobile field hospital has been set up by the country’s fire services to save lives in disaster zones.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service crew manager Robin Bates said the tent-based medical facility could be transformed into a medical centre in two days and a 40-bed field hospital in as little as four days.
Once erected it is the size of four football pitches and equipped to carry out up to 20 operations a day with the capacity to airlift casualties.
It would be a fully operational field hospital with departments for surgery, A&E and maternity. It also has a morgue.
The kit that makes up this hospital, which is designed to be used for up to 90 days at a time, is currently being stored in a warehouse by the Department of International Development (DFID) ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) crew manager Robin Bates was project section leader in charge of accommodation and logistics.
He said: “The work that has gone into this is incredible. To be able to go to a disaster zone and immediately put up such a vital lifeline will make a huge difference to those in need.
“As well as treating the injured, this hospital will be able to help prevent minor injuries becoming major with a team of highly trained trauma doctors and nurses.
“This facility will save lives without a doubt and improve life for people who have lost everything in countries where the infrastructure has been completely wiped out.”
He added the hospital had been certified by the World Health Organisation.
The UK has become the sixth country to have such a facility alongside Russia, China, Japan, Australia and Israel.
In addition to setting up the hospital firefighters will have other duties such as assisting with triage and treating patients as they are being transported to the hospital, with their Immediate Emergency Care training.
The firefighters involved have had to develop their skills in areas such as sanitation, utilities, waste management, food hygiene and more in order to support the facilities of the hospital.
While the hospital is most likely to be used in disaster zones to support the work of the UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) firefighters, it could also be used in Britain should severe flooding or an epidemic close major hospitals.