Samaritan's Purse Emergency Field Hospital
The emergency field hospital is a mobile unit that will give Samaritan’s Purse a physical location to treat and help patients in need.
A Tier-2 emergency field hospital along with 30 medical staff is currently being used to treat the suffering in Ecuador
In the aftermath of large-scale disasters—such as earthquakes, typhoons, conflict, and outbreaks of infectious disease—healthcare is one of the most critical needs. In developing countries, where hospital infrastructure is already inadequate or non-existent, acute disasters create an influx of sick and wounded people, some of whom will lose their lives without medical intervention.
To enhance and expand our existing emergency medical response, Samaritan’s Purse has created an Emergency Field Hospital (EFH) strategy. Our state-of-the-art mobile hospital is designed to be deployed and operational within 72 hours, enabling us to provide desperately-needed treatment throughout the crucial weeks following an acute disaster.
A History of Emergency Medicine
Medicine is foundational to the work of Samaritan’s Purse—our ministry has supported mission hospitals worldwide with volunteer doctors and medical equipment for nearly 40 years. Our expertise in disaster response includes emergency medicine; Samaritan’s Purse has mobilized medical responses to many disaster situations, including the refugee crisis in South Sudan, Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, and Haiti’s cholera outbreak.
Most recently, we spearheaded the largest clinical intervention to the Ebola crisis in Liberia—a situation that thrust Samaritan’s Purse into the forefront of international emergency medicine and forged valuable relationships with leading experts in the field.
Equipped For Compassionate Care
Created to be highly adaptable, yet fully equipped to respond to a variety of scenarios, the hospital itself is modular, comprised of heavy-duty, inflatable tents of various sizes. This allows the size and layout of the EFH to be adjusted according to the scope and type of disaster. Powered by diesel generators and supplied with an independent source of purified water, the EFH tents are climate controlled and stocked with medications, supplies, and equipment.
When fully deployed, the emergency field hospital comprises over an acre of tent wards, equipment, and infrastructure.
Tiers of Disaster Response
Because disaster scenarios—both natural and manmade—vary widely in terms of their magnitude and medical impact, Samaritan’s Purse has developed a four-tiered system of response. The EFH’s level of clinical care may be scaled and deployed accordingly:
Tier 1: Outpatient Primary and Emergency Care
- Includes a triage center, emergency room, pharmacy, and laboratory;
Tier 2: Inpatient Primary Care
- Includes all components of Tier 1, plus a 60-bed inpatient ward;
Tier 3: Inpatient Surgical Care
- Includes all components of Tiers 1 and 2, plus 20 additional inpatient beds and a two-room surgical theater;
Tier 4: Intensive Care
- The EFH is fully deployed at Tier 4, which includes all components of Tiers 1, 2, and 3, plus intensive care services.
Prepared to Meet Varied Needs
In addition to adapting to the size of the disaster, it is essential the EFH be equipped to respond to the wide range of illness and injury that vary according to each scenario. Samaritan’s Purse is expanding and developing our roster of doctors and nurses, skilled in a variety of specialties, who are trained and prepared at a moment’s notice to deploy to disaster locations. These medical professionals accompany a core group of Samaritan’s Purse full-time staff, including our Chief Medical Officer, disaster response experts, biomedical technicians, and other supporting staff.
This gives us the ability to assemble emergency medical teams specifically tailored to the needs of various disaster scenarios. For example, an earthquake response might require the skills of orthopedic doctors and trauma care physicians to treat fractured bones and internal injuries. An infectious disease outbreak demands the expertise of infectious disease specialists. A complex emergency involving populations displaced by conflict could require physicians with special training and experience treating traumatic injuries, severe malnutrition, and exposure.
Logistics and Deployment
The EFH structure and accompanying medical equipment are currently stored at our warehouse in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Palletized and organized according to disaster tier, it stands ready to be airlifted to a disaster situation anywhere in the world. Samaritan’s Purse recently procured and refurbished a DC-8 airliner that can carry the elements of Tier 1 (triage center, emergency room, pharmacy, and laboratory), and a pre-assembly team, deploy quickly, and enable the Tier 1 EFH to open within 72 hours of a disaster.
Pharmaceuticals and renewable medical supplies—such as bandages, sutures, and syringes—will be procured through medical supply partnerships and shipped to disaster locations through a third-party service. Due to the high cost and tremendous logistical challenges of deploying the EFH, it will be reserved for use in acute disaster scenarios where no healthcare infrastructure exists from which Samaritan’s Purse can launch an emergency medical response.
We Treat, Jesus Heals
In the wake of disaster, we are compelled to take action to meet emergency needs in Jesus’ Name. Samaritan’s Purse seeks to obey Christ’s command to follow the example of the Good Samaritan, providing practical help and spiritual comfort to those lying in the ditch along life’s road.
Emergency medicine is perhaps the best modern-day parallel of the Good Samaritan. As we come alongside the sick and suffering with compassionate medical care, we open doors to share the eternal healing found in Jesus alone. The Emergency Field Hospital will equip Samaritan’s Purse to do this at an unprecedented level, saving countless lives and reducing the suffering of men, women, and children devastated by disaster.
The DC-8 has the capacity to carry the EFH Tier 1 structure and equipment, along with a team of technicians to assemble it.