Surgical Field Hospital

Steward Gray
Image: Steward Gray

The surgical field hospital has the capacity to serve a population of 200,000 to 300,000. It has the ability to treat 50 to 100 patients per day. Surgeons can perform anything up to 20 operations per day. Standard ward capacity of the hospital is 80 beds.

Deployment layout for surgical field hospital

1. Gate
2. Water point
3. Latrine
4. Ward unit
5. Laundry
6. Showers
7. Kitchen
8. X-ray
9. Morgue
10. Medical warehouse
11. Laboratory
12. Intensive care unit
13. Operation theatre
14. Sterilization
15. Dispensary
16. Administration, incl. communication and data traffic
17. Workshop, general stockroom and technical depot
18. Communication antenna
19. Dressing unit
20. Outpatient unit
21. Water storage
22. Water purification
23. Generators
24. Waiting area and patient registry
25. 4x4 pickup
26. 4x4 all terrain vehicle
27. Personnel accommodation area
28. Sauna
29. Dining area, relaxation area.

Operation theatre tent

1. Patient preparation
2. Oxygen concentrator
3. Fluids, IV-equipment, tubes, syringes, needles etc.
4. Anaesthesia machine
5. Electric suction machine
6. Hand washing
7. Operating table
8. Surgical clothes
9. Instrument table
10. Mayo table
11. Instruments
12. Diathermy device with which i.e. leaking blood vessels are sealed
13. Operation theatre light with battery
14. Ceiling light fixture

A fully equipped operation theatre is part of the basic layout of both the general field hospital and the surgical field hospital. The menu of what can be done with this unit includes trauma surgery, treatment of large wounds, fracture repairs, performing amputations etc. Basically, the unit is equipped to carry out surgical operations from head to toe, including abdominal surgery. When the unit is located into a conflict area, war surgery usually takes precedence: trauma caused by small arms fire, artillery ammunition fragments, mine explosions or trauma originating from the use of improvised explosive devices.

The surgical field hospital has the capacity to serve a population of 200,000 to 300,000. It has the ability to treat 50 to 100 patients per day. Surgeons can perform anything up to 20 operations per day. Standard ward capacity of the hospital is 80 beds.

Its basic concept is geared towards treating war wounded. It can, however, be deployed if large scale surgical capacity is required to treat the wounds of victims of a disaster, typically in connection with a massive earthquake, especially if the quake hits a densely populated area.

Staffing of surgical field hospital

  • 1 Team Leader
  • 1 Medical coordinator
  • 2 Surgeons
  • 1 Anaesthesiologist
  • 1 Gynaecologist
  • 1 Paediatrician
  • 1 General practitioner
  • 8 Nurses (specialities: OT, anaesthesia, paediatrics, midwife, ward nurses)
  • 1 Pharmacist
  • 1 Laboratory technician
  • 1 X-ray technician
  • 1 Administration delegate
  • 1 Information delegate
  • 5 Technical delegates (specialities: water and sanitation, IT, electricity plus generalists)
  • In addition, up to 150 local staff

Surgical field hospital weighs app. 70,000 kilos and requires the transport capacity of 5 semi-trailer trucks. Two regular freight planes are needed to dispatch the hospital to its location by air freight.

Setting up a surgical field hospital requires a minimum of 3.000 to 5.000 square metres of suitable land.

Deployments of Finnish Red Cross surgical field hospital (by 1.6.2011):

  • 2009 to Peshawar, Pakistan, for ICRC use, in connection with increase in demand for war surgery in the area.
  • 2010 to Haiti, in connection with January 12th
  • 2010 earthquake, together with the German Red Cross.
  • 2010 to Temuco, Chile, in connection with February 27th
  • 2010 earthquake, together with the Norwegian Red Cross, operated by Chilean medical staff.