The following ideas could be added to prepare for the next pandemic or other natural or manmade disasters.

1. Plan for an inflatable annex to each of our hospitals that will allow for more bed space to meet surge requirements. This would be like the air-inflatable U.S. Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals used for field hospitals. Prepare connection sites on exterior walls to be used as parking spaces adjacent to existing hospital buildings. Then when the surge demands it, use these parking spaces as the base area for the air-inflatable bedding annex. These could provide secure individual rooms for pandemic treatment.

2. Having the Department of Defense establish mobile testing teams for the city, suburb and rural areas to provide periodic free walk-through exams could also provide shots and other minor treatment. This also would provide on-going monitoring of our citizen’s health and allow more immediate responses to environmental and terrorist threats.

This would require adapting existing military equipment into special expandable vans with built-in sensing/testing equipment that would travel to predesignated sites. We have some of this basic equipment rusting in the many National Guard consolidated motor pools ready for adaptation.

3. The U.S. Reserve and active forces could do this as part of their training programs. The patients could walk in one end and come out the other with a no-cost diagnostics DVD to take to their primary care doctors. If they have no primary care doctor, use the conference call video system like I suggested to the vice-governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands back in 1984. I was assigned to FEMA Region Headquarters, New York City, and sent to the U.S. Virgin Islands to accomplish a site survey and plan for their new Emergency Communications System. I proposed a remote medical exam process that would allow the doctors to do these exams with on-site medical aides. We should use this system with all our own U.S. medical facilities and services, especially in a pandemic, a mass casualty event, or with older patients.

Lt. Col. S.L. Hackworth is retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and was a Special Forces non-commissioned officer.

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