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Federal Medical Stations

Providing special needs care in less than 48 hours

What do you get when you add 24 hours and 40,000 square feet of
 medical equipment? You get a Federal Medical Station or FMS.

The FMS is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Strategic National Stockpile program and is designed to fill a gap that exists between disaster shelters and temporary hospitals. According to the CDC Works For You 24/7 Blog, Federal Medical Stations are non-emergency medical installations used during disaster situations to care for people with special medical needs and  chronic health conditions. They also include services for those with mental health issues. The CDC notes that FMS can be operational within 48 hours and their operational period is open-ended.

 It’s vitally important that basic medical needs are met during disaster situations and meeting those needs becomes an extraordinary challenge when hospitals are compromised or destroyed. While the FMS’s are not hospitals, they provide an invaluable resource and example for the disaster and emergency management community. Federal Medical Stations become a force multiplier by providing routine medical care for those with routine medical conditions, including the provision of routine medications, by sheltering those people, and keeping them out of an already stressed healthcare system during disaster. The FMS has the extra dimension of meeting mental health needs.

The FMS system relies on the asset management and logistics of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) for deployment. The SNS is a combination of warehoused supplies and vendor managed inventories of critical medications and equipment that can be shipped in bulk to areas in need. Each city or jurisdiction should have a plan in place (and tested) to receive assets from the SNS.

Photo Credit: CDC - Federal Medical Station
Creation of civilian, locally-based medical stations (in addition to disaster shelters) would be a major improvement to local and regional preparedness. Systems like the FMS should be reproduced by local jurisdictions to meet the expected needs of a community during crisis. We’re not suggesting reinvention of the entire system or duplication of existing programs. A smaller scale version of the FMS that is readily available to local governments with minimal lag-time would improve local response to crisis and disaster situations.

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