An astute railroad surgeon, witnessing the jostling of sick and wounded Civil wars soldiers during evacuations by horse-drawn waggons, was inspired to convert freight cars into different hospitals in train cars.
It was during World Wars I & II when hospital cars were custom-built as military medical transport. Thus began a large-scale use of hospital trains in wartime. Medical air travel was in its infancy. But after the Korean War, which was the last time the military utilised hospital cars, air transport took the lead.
Flash forward to the 21st century. Medical care and evacuation after natural or human-made disasters haven’t been as active. As they could be because of the lack of medical personnel, equipment, and hospital-grade supplies on the scene. From grid-locked highways to restricted flight routes. There are more than a few reasons why logistics for critical care during a catastrophic event can be a struggle. An answer to this dilemma is to dispatch emergency hospital trains equipped to handle severe medical challenges.
As emergency response planners incorporate the use of railroads in medical evacuation plans the nightmares that occurred during and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be alleviated. David Kelly has over 20 years of experience responding to natural disasters and civil disturbances as an officer in the National Guard and an officer of an operating non-profit railroad. Mr Kelly develops this concept in depth at the non-profit website.
An outstanding modern success story has to do with this year’s 25th anniversary of The Lifeline Express, also known as the Magic Train of India. Named “the world’s first hospital-on-rails,” it serves the indigent in rural villages.
This hospital train is the flagship of Impact India Foundation https://www.impactindia.org/lifeline-express.php and the Indian Railways, and to-date has served 10,000,000 adults and children, restoring sight, mobility, hearing, and correction of clefts, all free of cost.
Eighty-thousand doctors, surgeons, and medics have donated their expertise to make this ongoing dream possible. Most surgeons are from various parts of India. However, because of more publicity, doctors from around the world will become aware of this charitable opportunity and volunteer.
Currently, the Lifeline Express supports the following:
• Orthopedics– polio, and congenital deformities (clubfoot & cerebral palsy)
• Ophthalmology– cataract surgery, and partially blind patients
• Audiology– deformity of the middle ear, and restoration of hearing of sensory deaf patients
• Plastic Surgery– Cleft lip, and post burn contractures
• Neurology– Epilepsy
At any given moment, the train has a 20-person medical team working 15 hours a day for three to four weeks at a time. This state-of-the-art hospital train has to air-condition, one surgical operation theatre with three operating tables, a sterilising room, patient wards, onboard power generators, a pantry car, a storeroom for medical provisions, and lodging for the medical staff.
A YouTube video best shows the details.
Concerns for future sustainability include:
• Finding enough doctors and surgeons to donate the equivalent of $80,000 in expertise per project;
• Raising funds for improvements, post-operative care facilities; and,
• Increasing the number of blood banks to perform major surgeries.
Funding thus far has been from donors to the Impact India Foundation. More projects of this kind are needed not only in third-world countries, but also in developed countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain.
In fact, any country with natural disasters and evacuation demands, any state with an impoverished population off the beaten path, should have hospitals-on-rails.
https://www.hospitalforsalelease.com/ sells medical equipment that can be adjusted for compassionate service projects like The Lifeline Express.
Take a moment to reflect on your life plans.
Philanthropy may be the most significant and satisfying undertaking of a lifetime.