LAKE WYLIE — This was a test. This was only a test. But Lake Wylies visit from one of the more unique medical care units in the region came with a purpose.
Carolinas MED-1 is a rolling facility that includes two 53-foot tractor trailers, almost 1,000 feet of indoor treatment space, 13 beds and a dental chair, plus a deployable tent system that could add 100 more beds and a variety of mobile services like pharmacy, lab, radiology and ultrasound.
MED-1 visited Lake Wylie on Thursday and Friday for a scenario drill to prep a whole host of workers in the event of an emergency. The unit can be deployed for a variety of reasons over vast distances. Past events include helping in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath and assisting still-damaged New Orleans-area hospitals at the following Mardi Gras, serving a community after its hospital flooded and providing extra care at crowded golf tournaments.
Its really an awesome tool, said Dr. David Callaway, medical director for MED-1.
The Lake Wylie drill comes at an important time for reviewing operations, given hurricane season and the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Staff within Carolinas HealthCare System have been working for more than a year on convention planning, trying to tackle their response to a variety of possible needs.
It makes you look at your operations very closely, Callaway said.
The MED-1 unit began in 2004. Possible uses include medical care during an act of terrorism, natural or other disasters, rural care, when hospitals or other facilities are damaged or during special events where large numbers of people gather, like the upcoming national convention.
Staff includes trauma surgeons, emergency physicians, paramedics, anesthesiologists, nurses and police officers, and facilities including an operating room and emergency room care. Even without an event like the convention coming, MED-1 staff of up to 100 people would gather a couple of times a year to orient new members and review protocol.
We like to get everybody used to working in the unit, working with each other, said Scott White, spokesman for Carolinas HealthCare.
The unit travels as five separate vehicles and is self-sufficient for 72 hours. A mobile emergency department with most of the capabilities youd find in a hospital, White said, MED-1 is prepared to tackle the turnout of next months convention. Thanks, in part, to one last test run for the facility unlike any other on wheels.
Nobody has one of these, Callaway said of the non-government unit. Its unprecedented for being in private hands.