Southern Illinois Healthcare shows off their Disaster Blasters


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. - When natural disaster strikes, you might not always be prepared, but Southern Illinois Healthcare wants you to rest a little easier.

On Thursday, SIH brought out the Disaster Blasters.

They are a fleet of medically equipped trailers that come to the rescue when you need them most.

In Southern Illinois, they normally make their appearances after severe weather hits. .

Now that it is storm season again, SIH officials are reminding people about a resource that could save their lives.

The Disaster Blasters got quite a work out during the 2011 flood.

They brought oxygen, water and medical supplies to hundreds of displaced families.

Their mobile emergency rooms can do anything a regular hospital could do, and sometimes more.

Mike Maddox is a coordinator for Southern Illinois Healthcare and says he vividly remembers arriving at a shelter with the Disaster Blasters during the 2011 floods.

"As we pulled up with our supplies, the looks on some of the peoples' faces, just a sense of relief," said Maddox.

Director of Emergency Services and EMS at Memorial Hospital, Joseph Haake, says these trailers have proven they can care for hundreds of people at a time.

While there has never been an event so disastrous as to require the entire fleet at once, he says they would not miss a beat if there was.

"These units have the equipment and the personnel available to act as another emergency department," said Haake.

When the unthinkable happens and healthcare workers themselves are injured, or the hospitals are damaged, the Disaster Blasters step in.

The trailers go beyond crutches and wheelchairs; one of them can provide oxygen for 70 people, and another can take lake or pond water and completely purify it.

The trailers are prepped and ready to heal people in need, but if it is too late, one of the trailers can hold the remains of 19 individuals to make sure they are properly cared for.

For the last six years, the Disaster Blasters have been on-call, waiting to lend a life-saving hand, and that, Mike Maddox says, is what a healthcare professional lives for.

Some of the Disaster Blaster trailers were also called to Harrisburg when the tornado hit the small town.

SIH prepared for a lot more, but said the hospitals greatest need was water.