South Australia home to inflatable field hospital

An inflatable veterinary field hospital has been launched in South Australia in the hopes it will help provide swift treatment to animals during the state’s most dangerous fire season.

The tunnel-shaped hospital is an initiative of SA Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM), a volunteer response and recovery agency which aims to assess, shelter and treat animals following emergencies.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the country, the rapid set-up structure is hoped to be a positive step in treating injured wildlife swiftly.

Rachel Westcott from SAVEM said the hospital can be erected away from Country Fire Service staging areas, and thus be a little quieter and less stressful.

“We do ideally like to have a bit more peace and quiet than perhaps occurs with shared spaces,” Westcott said.

“There will inevitably be occasions where it’s necessary to share a staging area, but we can do that in as quiet a part of it as we can and have dedicated equipment away from the hubbub and make it less stressful for the animals.”

Westcott said smoke inhalation is a common ailment in bushfire season, as are long bone fractures in kangaroos.

“Often when kangaroos are fleeing a fire and visibility is bad, they can have collisions, sometimes with trees or fences” she said.

SAVEM is currently training two teams of six staff in anticipation of its first deployment.

“It only takes 15 minutes to deploy the structure, and we’ve recently been able to purchase a dedicated trailer which is very helpful because the tent comes with several packs and is quite heavy,” she said.
“We’re only at the beginning of summer, and while I’m hoping it’s nothing like what’s happening in the eastern states, that could all change.”

The $30,000 portable structure was funded by the Hackett Foundation.

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