B.C.’s mobile medical unit is the only one of its kind in the country.
Originally created for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics, the unit was on display in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday ahead of the BC Quality Health Forum this week.
The province purchased it after Vancouver Games to support emergency situations, with funding from the Ministry of Health shared among all health authorities.
The unit and its team of doctors, nurses and paramedics has been to more than 60 sites across the province, as far north as Terrace, as far east as Golden, and all over Vancouver Island.
The team can prepare and mobilize the unit in as quickly as eight hours after receiving a request, and provides treatment during emergencies, public health outreach and renovation support.
Two years ago, it was deployed to the Downtown Eastside to assist with the opioid crisis. The unit was set up on Hastings Street for seven months.
Peter Hennecki, clinical operations director, said the unit was the difference between life and death for patients that required immediate care.
“Not having this kind of unit there as an initial response, when things were at their worst – it did save lives,” said Hennecki.
The unit weighs about 80,000 lbs. and comes with a supply trailer. Together, they have a footprint of 125 feet by 60 feet. When fully setup, it has nearly 1,100 square feet of clinical space and the capacity to hold up to eight stretchers. When not in use, they are stored in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Delta.
The unit’s next planned deployment is to Richmond General Hospital, where the team is running a disaster medical course.
“If we got the call right now to go somewhere, we would pack up and go to the emergency,” Hennecki said.