Portable hospital set up for APEC features ER, decontamination tent, pharmacy

A portable hospital set up in support of APEC
A portable hospital set up in support of APEC
Toby Clairmont
Toby Clairmont
Jennifer Rabalais
Jennifer Rabalais

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a bunch of tents near the Waikiki Shell where medical professionals have been standing by in case of an emergency during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting. Hawaii News Now took a tour of the mobile hospital Sunday.

The TV series MASH was about a team of doctors and support staff providing medical care out in the field during the Korean War. There's a set-up reminiscent of that in a parking lot near Kapiolani Park in support of APEC.

"If we receive casualties, we would bring them in here, just like you'd see in any emergency department," Toby Clairmont, Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team, said. "The job of this area is to stabilize people."

Yes, it's an ER in a tent -- complete with ventilators, defibrillators, and other vital equipment.

The 50-bed portable hospital also includes a triage area, a decontamination tent in case of chemical exposure, and a pharmacy where the team can access medical records electronically, and fill prescriptions for ointments and pills for patients being discharged.

The doctors, nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists and others who make up the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team are from healthcare facilities across the state.

"We're usually in response to disasters, but we can also be pre-positioned for special events like this one," Clairmont said.

Registered nurse Jennifer Rabalais is from the North Hawaii Community Hospital on the Big Island. She calls the APEC assignment a privilege.

"To show the world that we in Hawaii are prepared to deliver whatever services they might need, and that we have the skills equal to or greater than bigger places might have," she said.

So far, there's been no emergency. But the team says this experience is extremely valuable.

"We do training every time we go out, either to a real deployment or to an exercise like this, to keep our skills up because the equipment is different, even your strategy is different in a situation like this than it would be in a hospital," Rabalais said.

A second portable hospital was set up at Kapolei High School in support of the leaders' meeting Sunday at Ko Olina.

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