UK-Med can construct a Type 1 field hospital in the midst of a disaster zone and begin receiving patients within two or three days of arriving in country. To do so requires a highly skilled team and rigorous training.
Our medics, who staff our field hospitals, must be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. The field hospital is one of many ways we provide life-saving health care in conflict or disaster zones. As such, our medics undergo training with the field hospital to familiarise them with every procedure and piece of equipment they will be expected to handle on deployment, so that when they deploy, they will be able to provide medical care as quickly as possible.
From the mobile pharmacy to the triage area, the maternity care tent, and the major injuries and resuscitation unit, each member of the team must understand their role in the field hospital and what is expected of humanitarian health practitioners in the field.
Similarly to the Hostile Environment Awareness Training we ran earlier in the year for our medics, the training exercise involved a simulated scenario (SIMEX) based on a fictional humanitarian response to a disaster – in this case a cyclone. “It was a real window to see what to expect on an actual deployment.” said one participant at the SIMEX.
When we launch an emergency response, the contexts we work in often change rapidly and by necessity our teams must be mobile, quick-thinking, and prepared for the unexpected. This type of simulation can help hone our medics’ abilities to provide a high standard of health care in a high stress, but controlled, environment.
“There is a real benefit in giving our register medics an opportunity to experience and work through the key aspects of a Type 1 field hospital response whilst implementing and testing key clinical, operational, logistical and WASH procedures within a field hospital setting.” - Yaroslava Tytarenko, Training Manager at UK-Med.
33 UK-Med register medics, alongside delegates from the Ethiopian Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and the University Hospital of Toulouse participated in the field hospital training exercise which focused on the central tenets of flexibility, teamwork, and practical skills within a simulated EMT response.
“We had a good mix of participants at the SIMEX who were able to share their experience and expertise with one another during the simulation, in addition to the immersive and hands-on learning they received through the various scenarios.” said Yaroslava.
A Different Kind of Hospital
The SIMEX took place on site, using the same type of field hospital we deployed to Turkey in the aftermath of the earthquake in February where we treated more than 7,000 people. The hospital presented our medics with a true-to-life representation of the facilities, equipment, and challenges they may face on deployment. For the medics, some of whom are also NHS staff, working in a field hospital is a far cry from the clinics and health facilities they are familiar with in the UK.
“The setup of a field hospital drastically differs from a regular one in that we don’t hold a large amounts of bed capacity, medications, supplies etc. We bring all the equipment needed to run our operations for the expected duration of time,” said Dr. Ram Vadi, Health Director.
“The trauma we see in disaster zones can often be quite overwhelming in the initial days, as well as the sheer patient load. Add onto that, many of the settings in which we deploy are endemic for malaria, cholera, and other tropical illnesses.”
A field hospital is a challenging environment to work in. Comprising 13 large tents that operate as unique, but interconnected parts of the larger hospital complex, the field hospital can be a cramped and tiring setting not least in a conflict or disaster zone.
Nevertheless, the quality of patient care and the professionalism of our teams are held to rigorous standards despite the difficult conditions our medics face on deployment. As the UK’s only Emergency Medical Team to be verified by the World Health Organization (WHO), our responses must adhere to a high level of care laid out by the UN agency.
For some of our medics preparing for their first deployment, their training will not end there. Team Leads and Medical Coordinators receive further leadership training to ready them for an active humanitarian deployment.
Working with UK-Med
If you are interested in joining our register of on-call medics, visit our vacancies page or follow the links below to learn more about the surgical specialisms we’re currently recruiting for. If you have the commitment and expertise to provide life-saving health care in emergencies, we want to hear from you.
Within a few weeks of being accepted, our training programme could have you fully deployable and ready to respond to humanitarian crises around the world.
“Working with UK-Med is a unique, life changing opportunity to make a difference globally while saving lives and helping people in emergencies. It is also a chance to learn, network with like-minded peers, and grow and develop as a truly experienced humanitarian.” said Yaroslava.
Register members are recruited to support surge and emergency response requirements, volunteering to be on call for certain times of the year. They deploy for short periods at a time (usually between 4-12 weeks).
Can’t find a role that suits you? Follow us on social media, where we advertise the latest vacancies in our core staff team, country programmes, and our register.