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close this bookHealth Laboratory Facilities in Emergencies and Disaster Situations. (WHO - OMS, 1994, 169 p.)
close this folderChapter 3 Types of laboratory facility
View the document3.1 General
View the document3.2 Existing laboratory facilities
View the document3.3 Temporary stationary laboratory facilities
View the document3.4 Mobile laboratories
View the document3.5 Portable laboratories
View the document3.6 Referral of samples to reference laboratories

3.4 Mobile laboratories

A mobile laboratory is a laboratory mounted on or built into some form of transport. The transport might be a truck or van, a trailer, a railway carriage, a boat, or a large self-supporting container-like unit that can be conveyed by truck, boat, plane, or helicopter. All of these formats exist and have been used very successfully. Planning authorities should give serious consideration to including mobile laboratories in their emergency contingency plans.

A mobile laboratory has three advantages:

· It can go almost anywhere, depending on the type of laboratory and the location of the disaster.

· It is self-contained, usually with its own sources of electrical power and utilities, such as water and gas.

· It is designed to be operable immediately upon arrival.

The disadvantages are:

· cost; and
· the fact that it may not be able to reach the emergency areas in some situations.

Mobile laboratories can be configured for almost any type of investigation, including, for example, medical diagnostic tests and environmental investigations. Mobile laboratories should be chosen according to the anticipated conditions e.g. ship, boat or canoe-transported systems for rivers and seas (Figure 3.4); vehicle or rail-mounted systems on land.

Preplanning is necessary to take advantage of the capabilities of mobile laboratories. They must be procured before the emergency situation has happened. This requires planning to decide and, perhaps, design what is needed for the area projected as a target. A list of manufacturers of mobile laboratories is given in Annex 3. Once the laboratory has been obtained, the personnel that are to use it should receive periodic hands-on training, working together so that they have the opportunity to form an efficiently functioning team. Actual work in the field is essential for solving potential problems in the system.


Figure 3.4 A boat- mounted laboratory