M*A*S*H - Mobile Army Surgical Hospital - First deployed during the Korean War, MASH units were popularized by the 1968 book of the same name, then the movie in 1970, and finally the popular, decade-long run of the television show during the 1970s-1980s. These characterizations of life in the war time field hospitals often focused on the light-hearted romps of the prankster-prone physicians who simply sought distractions from the alternating horrors and boredom of life on the front.
One reality that may have been overlooked amidst the hijinks and drama of these portrayals is the overwhelming success of the MASH unit during times of war. By moving these portable surgical hospitals closer to the front lines, the Army was able to lower the mortality rate for wounded soldiers from 4.5% during WWII to 2.5% during the Korean War. If a wounded soldier made it to the MASH unit alive, he had a 97.5% chance of survival. The importance of immediate and complete care for those injured in natural disasters is the same.
Designer Kukli Han's design takes on the appearance of a glorified shipping crate, sturdy enough to be transported anywhere in the world via train, truck, ship or helicopter. Powered by portable solar panels, the Mobile Hospital can arrive in a matter of hours to any disaster site fully equipped with x-ray room, examination room, sterile operating facilities, inpatient and recuperating areas, waiting rooms and even a temporary morgue for fatalities.
Recent instances where Han's Mobile Hospital might have saved countless lives include the floods and subsequent mudslides that took place in January 2011 in a mountainous region of Brazil, the 2010 earthquake that destroyed Haiti, the deadly avalanches in Afghanistan of last year, and of course the recent disaster in Japan. Three hundred hospitals with 20 beds or more in Tōhoku were damaged by the disaster, with 11 being completely destroyed. Dropping a dozen of these units by helicopter into the region could have saved hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.
The following images display an array of different layouts, showing the potential for more comprehensive setups to accommodate scenarios requiring longer duration, like the next Great Flu Epidemic, or the inevitable zombie attack. As the MASH units of yesteryear have proven, immediate care is essential to saving lives.