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By Nor Baizura Basri
JOHOR BAHRU, June 9 -- The use of field hospitals to manage the COVID-19 pandemic is capable of building up the preparedness of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) in facing chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNe) threats in the future.
Medical Second Battalion commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Dr Mohd Zamri Derahman said field hospitals prior to this were more focused on preparations for war, natural disasters and emergency assistance.
However, he said the role of the field hospital was seen as increasingly important as backup facility to the public health frontliners who are currently bogged down by the high number of positive COVID-19 cases.
By managing the COVID-19 pandemic which is regarded as a biological disaster, Dr Mohd Zamri said has given MAF the experience and skills and enhanced its knowledge based on a real case scenario which would be an added value to the CBRNe threat training it has been conducting.
“But in a peaceful situation, we have often been deployed to help countries and areas experiencing natural disasters.
“For example, in Malaysia itself, we were mobilised to Manik Urai, Kelantan during the big flood in 2014, the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) here itself following a fire in its operation theatre in 2016 and countries such as Acheh, in Indonesia and Afghanistan which were hit by earthquakes, major floods and other natural disasters,” he said.
He was speaking to Bernama when witnessing the setting up of a field hospital in the compound of the HSA, here, today.
Regarding it as a new challenge for MAF officers and personnel, he said the new assignment was viewed seriously as there is a need to comply with the tight standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure the personnel on duty, patients and visitors are not exposed to the virus.
“It was not a problem to open or set up a field hospital but the treatment of COVID-19 patients at the field hospital is a challenge to us.
“The tight standard operating procedure (SOP) established from Kepala Batas will also be utilised here so that the personnel on duty, patients and visitors are safe,” said Dr Mohd Zamri.
The field hospital, is MAF’s third facility which was specially built to treat COVID-19 patients after the Field ICU in Kepala Batas, Penang and the field hospital in Pokok Sena, Kedah which treated positive patients in categories 2 and 3 from Pokok Sena prison.
Dr Mohd Zamri, who is also the commander at the Field ICU said, the field hospital would be handled by three officers headed by Major Dr Mohd Khir Rezza Rahimi, 30 paramedics from the Medical Second Battalion and 16 members of the Seventh Brigade who would be tasked with looking after the parameter of the area.
The field hospital, which is expected to be operational next Thursday, (June 17) would hold 64 COVID-19 patients in categories three, four and five including a four-bed Intensive care Unit (ICU).
Prior to this, the field hospitals established in Tawau, Sabah and Kapit, Sarawak handled non-COVID-19 cases.
Asked if MAF has the capability to increase the existing number of beds, he said MAF would endeavoured to increase in stages depending on needs of the hospital from time to time.
“As we are all aware, we are looking at the COVID-19 trend...maybe we will see a drop but we try to meet the requests for the hospital albeit in stages,” said Dr Mohd Zamri.
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