Mobile Medical Unit ready for disaster

The front of the unit has a general treatment area.
The front of the unit has a general treatment area.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A big green bus located near Huntsville Hospital might as well be a white stallion, galloping to the rescue with knights like the unit's coordinator, ready to fight disease and injury. That coordinator is Pranteek Patnaik.

"This is just really a rolling clinic," he said.

He said the front of the unit has a general treatment area.

"It's going to look very similar to a doctor's office, so we've got a bed here. It's heated and cooled and we've got a blood pressure rack up here," said Patnaik. "So we can do some quick assessments and triage people on the field if we need to."

He said free access to screenings in rural and underserved areas is a big part of their mission.

"In last year's operation, we were able to do about 73 community health screenings and we reached about 5,000 people," said Patnaik.

And that's important in areas where many people don't have the opportunity to visit a doctor.

"Some of the screenings we offer on a regular basis are cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac risk assessments. We'll come out and do bone density and body mass index from time to time, but those kind of core biometric screenings give us kind of a snapshot of how your overall health is," Patnaik added.

The nice thing about this unit is it can not only roll to a senior center and do everyday testing that's necessary and much needed, but it can also go on the road for natural disasters.

It is staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses, social workers and more, according to Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Joyce Thomas.

"Anyone who wants to volunteer for the medical reserve corps, they would actually be activated in times of disaster through the EMA office," said Thomas.

She said that is better than taking the staff out of the local hospital where they would be needed for incoming patients.

"If we had to be activated, we could take our unit out to one of the 13 counties in North Alabama. We could stand it up as a command post, or we could stand it up so we could do triage and referral out to send back the patients to the ambulance back to the hospitals," Thomas added.

In those cases, they have cable, internet, phone, and fax capabilities - a big investment for your health.

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