Mobile Medical Unit helps Nanaimo practice and prepare for disasters

Group photo of the Mobile Medical Unit team

The Provincial Health Services Authority's Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) was recently deployed to Vancouver Island to pilot its Disaster Medicine course. On June 12 and 13, the MMU team, which includes Dr. Omar Ahmad and Dr. Michael Flesher, collaborated with our Island Health partners to provide customized education and a simulation disaster exercise to 53 clinicians from NRGH. Participants in the classes included nurses, unit clerks, physicians and social workers.

“The team was really excited for the opportunity to learn and practice emergency preparedness,” said Marci Ekland, site director, emergency services, Island Health.

Lisa McLeod, manager of emergency services at NRGH, echoed those thoughts. “As a hospital that supports much of the central Island, this experience is very important for our team – as well as our community and Island region.”

Being mobile has benefits

Having the MMU hospital trailer on site at the NRGH meant the MMU team could provide disaster training without disrupting the ER or hospital operations.

“This is an excellent utilization of the MMU,” said Dr. Chris Rumball, emergency physician at NRGH and Chair of the Doctors of BC Emergency and Public Safety Committee. “It allowed our ER to continue to function while at the same time providing a realistic setting to conduct the didactic and clinical portions of the course. A resource like the MMU makes it far more likely that local individuals can organize this kind of educational experience and provide the vital community and facility planning and training.”

While in Nanaimo, the MMU team also held an open house at NRGH for tours of the units and to answer visitors’ questions about the program. PHSA’s BC Transplant program was also present during the open house to raise awareness and register decisions about organ donation. Both programs and services partner with regional health authorities across the province.

In addition to being a resource in the event of a natural disaster, emergency or temporary back up to a BC health care facility, education is a major component of the MMU program. As a shared resource among the regional health authorities, the MMU makes planned deployments to each health region in BC every year to provide opportunities for education and planning.

The MMU has deployed to over 60 sites across the province for various missions. If you would like to have the MMU visit your site, please email For more information on the MMU program, visit or follow them on Twitter.