Amarillo, Texas - Emergency responders will now be better prepared to provide medical care to people in the panhandle during a disaster, thanks to the area's only mobile medical unit.
The Panhandle Regional Advisory Council rolled out the hospital on wheels for the first time Wednesday.
Derek Vaughan with the council says, "We wanted to provide training for ourselves and our hospital personnel so that we are prepared for a safe set up in a short amount of time."
The unit can be used during an emergency situation as an alternate care center if a hospital is forced to close, or cannot take any more patients.
Vaughan explains, "We did an exercise in Borger and Pampa a few weeks ago. The scenario was a tornado hit the Borger Hospital and destroyed it. We can mobilize this unit in about an hour and setup takes less than 5 hours. We can setup a hospital on the ground at any of the regional hospitals or here in Amarillo.
The mobile medical unit is transformed into a 16-bed hospital powered by a generator, that includes heat, air conditioning, and medical supplies.
Emergency Task Force Coordinator Rodney Hunt says, "We can use this hospital for lots of different things. You can set it up as a triage area where paramedics can come in and move patients, or you can set it up as an emergency room."
Patients can be treated for anything from broken bones to trauma, by a medical team from local hospitals.
Hunt adds, "We try to staff the MMU with four paramedics, four nurses, a physician's assistant, a doctor, and some clerical staff as well."
State and federal grants made it possible to purchase the more than $700,000 piece of equipment.