At the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, disaster planning has been an integral part of the airport operations for the past 28 years. Through the Medical Office, emergency medical teams have been recruited from all ranks of airport personnel and trained in rescue and resuscitation. Following the crash of a commercial B 727 aircraft in 1976 and the resulting crippling traffic jams in the vicinity of the airport, a new concept was added to the disaster plan. This concept involves bringing the hospital, its facilities and its personnel to the scene.
A new piece of equipment, known as a Mobile Emergency Hospital was designed from existing airport equipment, with the cooperation of the airlines, the operating authority of the airport, and other interested parties. Two such vehicles are now in constant readiness at the airport and together provide 12 monitored ICU beds, a 16-bed burn unit, 2 operating rooms and 72 other stretcher-beds to be used for the stabilization of critically ill patients prior to their transfer to an appropriate definitive care facility. A newer modularized version which incorporates these features, for use in any type disaster, is currently being developed. These mobile hospitals, together with two inflatable structures maintained at the airport, are supplemented by Mobile Emergency Rescue Vehicles (MERV vans) maintained at local hospitals by the Emergency Medical Service Systems (EMSS) of New York City. Together they provide the on-site Resuscitation and Stabilization Center in the event of a disaster.