LOMA LINDA, Calif. -- The scene of a disaster can be a rough place where life and death hang in the balance.
This is especially so if the lines of communication are down, hampering the efforts of medical personnel.
But now Loma Linda University Medical Center is prepared for such a scenario with its new Mobile Telemedicine Vehicle, or MTV.
The state-of-the-art vehicle is a combination mobile medical command center and telemedical center.
It s not an ambulance or patient-carrying device, said Ron Holk, operations coordinator for the Center for Prehospital Care, Education and Research at the medical center. We use it primarily to carry medication and supplies and all of our radio and satellite and wireless communications gear.
This self-contained, four-wheel-drive vehicle has sophisticated diagnostic equipment and is connected via satellite to the medical center for teleconferencing.
The vehicle can relay to the medical center vital information such as patient X-rays, various medical results and live video.
The telemedicine unit is more like an extreme RV, Holk said.
It doesn t look like an RV, it s designated as a modified vehicle. It s like a `house-car.
Emergency personnel who staff the vehicle can take mobile X-rays and send test results to a physician at the medical center.
Emergency workers can video conference or use telemedicine that provides situational awareness of what s going on in the field - medically speaking.
We can take our equipment to the scene of an emergency or accident or a huge disaster where communication infrastructure is curtailed, Holk said. It transports the physician virtually to the scene of an incident.
Built on a Mercedes Benz U-500 chassis, the $800,000 vehicle includes an extra axle for stability and superior off-road handling capabilities. The back end houses an all-terrain vehicle.
The vehicle can carry three people in the front, and it has sleeping quarters, a bathroom, shower and kitchenette area.
Medical center officials have tested the vehicle at Glen Helen Regional Park and California Speedway.
Last year, it was deployed to the Esperanza Fire command center, and the vehicle s workers treated 25 or 30 fire personnel.