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By JEANNETTE DeSANTIS Contributing Reporter A MASH unit in Calabasas? Disaster Medical Assistance Corp. is offering a whole new perspective on Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals one without the likes of Hawkeye Pierce. DMAC provides trailer-like containers filled with emergency medical supplies and other equipment. They are placed in strategic locations, such as fire station parking lots, and can be turned into small field hospitals in the event of a major disaster. “In Calabasas, we have only four roads that lead in and out of the city,” said Dr. Arnold Bresky, a co-founder of DMAC who actually worked in a MASH unit during the Vietnam War. “If the Northridge Earthquake had hit just 12 hours later (in the middle of the day), we would have been in serious trouble,” he said. Most local governments don’t have the money to stockpile medical equipment that might sit idle for a decade or more. So Disaster Medical provides the storage lockers for free and makes its money by selling advertising on the lockers. It’s somewhat like bus shelters, which are typically provided free to cities by companies that make their money by selling ad space. The company charges advertisers $45,000 for the first year and $9,000 a year afterward, according to DMAC President Fred Sayles. The fee covers the cost of maintaining the equipment stored in the locker. One company, Rhino Linings USA, has sponsored three containers. The San Diego-based company makes protective liners for truck beds. “The main reason we did it was to help promote goodwill in the community,” said spokeswoman Diane Kahler. “But also we are going for the name recognition it will provide the company.” Rhino Linings sponsors containers in Palm Springs as well as Florida and Louisiana. Company officials have yet to notice whether there has been any impact on business, Kahler said. The privately held DMAC has generated $700,000 in revenues since it started selling in May, and projects up to $5 million in revenues this year, Sayles said. California and the hurricane-prone areas of Florida, Louisiana and Texas are expected to be big markets. Sayles said two of the of the self-contained facilities are in place in Florida, with one apiece in Palm Springs and Louisiana. The company is also seeking approval from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to place facilities at a variety of locations, including Los Angeles County Fire Station 70 in Malibu, County Fire Station 119 in Walnut and County Fire Station 73 in Newhall. DMAC also wants to place trailers at the Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center and the Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center to be used as backup emergency centers if the hospitals are destroyed in a major quake or other disaster. Locally, the city of Calabasas purchased four prototype facilities for between $12,000 and $20,000, said Tim Steenson, director of Building and Safety for the city. The mini-emergency facilities are strategically placed at highly populated areas of the city, including Calabasas High School, A.E. Wright Middle School and the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center. A fourth is currently being assembled and will be placed at the Calabasas Country Club. Unlike the other trailers the company is marketing, the Calabasas facilities do not contain advertising. The difference is that in Calabasas, the program began more as a community service than a business. After the Northridge quake, Bresky decided to place storage lockers throughout the Calabasas area that would provide a full complement of the emergency medical equipment that would be needed in the event of a major disaster. “When people heard about it, they thought it was a wonderful idea,” Bresky said. “These containers come in all different sizes and could be placed in areas where there is someone with medical training and the equipment is available to them within the first 24 hours.” Bresky enlisted Fred Sayles, an associate from a previous business venture, to help launch the company. The containers come in different sizes and resemble truck trailers without the trucks. They are built to withstand forces of major disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes and are stocked with satellite communication systems, surgical instruments, electrical power generators and a plethora of medical and emergency supplies like bandages, cots, flashlights, water, blankets, fans and portable radios. It is up to the cities where the containers are placed to assign and train medical personnel in the area to set up and run the DMAC packages as civilian MASH-type units, and to treat victims during the first 48 to 72 hours of a disaster, Sayles said. The containers can be medically customized to fit the needs of each municipality. For instance, in Palm Springs, city officials requested a defibrillator a heart attack treatment device to be included in their package because of the city’s large elderly population.

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