The Kentucky Department of Public Health recently raised a 45-bed hospital inside Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center using air compressors, human power and inflatable tent technology on a grand scale. Kentucky emergency management officials planning logistics for tornados, floods, large chemical accidents or a pandemic influenza outbreak purchased the instant hospital for deployment during disasters taking place far from urban medical resources.
The 3,342-square-foot mobile medical center, manufactured by Zumro Inc., Hatboro, Pa., is completely self-contained, with two large generators, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. The inflatable tents provide areas to triage incoming disaster victims and to isolate infectious disease patients. At one point in the deployment drill, 16 people lifted one 860-square-foot tent included in the system and moved it several yards, demonstrating its lightness and versatility. The mil-spec neoprene air-frame tent resists rotting, holds huge loads (wind, snow, ice, rain) even at very low air pressure, and deploys rapidly under extreme weather conditions.
The mobile medical centers are a logical next step for Zumro, which has 7,000 shelters (primarily decontamination inflatable structures) in use nationwide. Customer demand for larger, stronger shelters led Zumro to expand into the medical field. “This is a big deal for us and for our workers,” says Win VanBasten, Zumro president.