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At DNC, a Microgrid-Powered Mobile Medical Unit will Offer Critical Care

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September 04, 2012

At DNC, a Microgrid-Powered Mobile Medical Unit will Offer Critical Care

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor


When more than 6,000 delegates and politicians, the global press corps and the incumbent leader of the free world arrive in Charlotte, NC for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, September 3-6, an innovative mobile medical unit will be available to respond to any ailments they suffer on-site – except, of course, for “hurt” feelings or “broken” promises.

Carolinas MED-1, a mobile hospital funded by the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and operated by the Carolinas Healthcare System, is prepared to respond to virtually any urgent care situation.

The roving rescue unit comprises six critical-care and seven acute-care beds, as well as two functional operating room beds. In past emergencies, Carolinas MED-1 has provided immediate, on-site treatment to patients suffering from strokes, heart attacks, infections and other serious to life-threatening conditions.

The first deployment of Carolinas MED-1 was in 2005, when the unit was sent out of state, to Waveland, Mississippi. Arriving just days after Hurricane Katrina smashed and flooded much of the Gulf Coast, the MED-1 staff provided care for 7,500 patients during a nearly seven-week mission.

Since then, the unit has responded to three more disasters, and has been used for community outreach – such as providing H1N1 flu vaccine in medically underserved areas of Charlotte, performing in-depth physical exams for high school athletes, and offering urgent care at a PGA golf tournament and other public events.

A Medical Microgrid

At the Democratic National Convention, however, the crew of MED-1 has promised to fulfill one more key objective: They will display, monitor and measure smart grid technology – integrating solar with traditional power generation in an effort to move one step closer to the development of a clean, sustainable mobile medical microgrid.

"One of the challenges in working in a disaster location is fuel to operate Carolinas MED-1's two 100-kilowatt(kW) diesel-powered generators," said Dr. David Callaway, operational medical director. "Imagine if we could arrive at a devastated area and be fully operational without requiring any local fuel sources. By utilizing energy efficient technology, we can drastically reduce fuel consumption——not only during the critical first days on station, but during the entire deployment."

Earlier in the year, energy efficiency solutions provider, Lime Energy (News - Alert), worked with the MED-1 team to audit and uncover several opportunities for the mobile hospital to reduce energy consumption and incorporate renewable energy into operations. Not coincidentally, Lime Energy is a go-to source for energy connections in the Charlotte area.

The company is leading a movement of 14 Charlotte-based power companies to form a nonprofit agency called E4 Carolinas, Inc. that will promote the development of an energy hub in the Carolinas.

Once the delivery plan was approved, the team brought in a local partner, SEWW (Sun, Earth, Wind, & Water) Energy, Inc. – a developer of community-based micro grid projects – to support the endeavor.

The initial project has resulted in more efficient LED lighting and air conditioning, as well as more comfortable conditions for patients and staff, and has reduced logistical support requirements.

"Charlotte continues to create an environment where smart partnerships can thrive and bring real value to our global community" said John O'Rourke, president and CEO at Lime Energy. "We were thrilled to bring our energy expertise to this unique project." 

Not only will DNC delegates be able to feel the immediate improvements to the innovative mobile hospital, but they will also see how energy can be harnessed and recaptured through an interactive kiosk linked to a Carolinas MED-1 “green” website.  

"As a new small business entrant to the Charlotte Energy Hub, SEWW Energy is delighted to provide its microgrid development products and services in support of Carolinas HealthCare System and Dr. Callaway's MED-1 Green vision,” remarked Kevon Makell, president and CEO at SEWW Energy, Inc. “The power of local partnership and innovation can improve the lives of all those whom we collectively serve."

"In Charlotte we have innovative visionaries in health, energy and technology," said Dr. Callaway. "It's the right atmosphere for collaboration to drive new ways of looking at challenges and finding solutions. This team really worked well together to deliver immediate energy efficiencies as well as to validate our future vision for MED-1."

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Edited by Braden Becker

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