Each inflatable tent module arrives deflated, folded up like a body bag that could fit a dead ox (An ox that led a good life, because each bag is 2,600 pounds). It takes about 10 people to carry it from the plane to a truck, and then from the truck to the hospital site, which will have a solid floor made of asphalt or a special set of platforms. Working nonstop in shifts, teams—like those seen in the video below, showing a similar setup in Haiti—spend 24 to 48 hours constructing them. “You blow in *BBBRRR* and the tent is up!” says Michel Olivier Lacharité, logistics director for Médecins Sans Frontières’ operations in Nepal
Within each tent, sheets of rubber are sewn between huge tubes that work like ribs. Those long, rectangular panels have grommets for hanging up room partitions, and once the structure is complete, volunteers can throw up partitions for different operating rooms, including heat or AC. (While the inflatable tents will mostly be operating rooms, inpatients will be housed in dozens of traditional canvas and pole tents on the grounds of the pop up-hospital.)
Médecins Sans Frontières’ Nepal relief effort started in a warehouse in Bordeaux, France. No packing was necessary: All the surgical supplies the teams needed were available in pre-packed kits, including gauze, sutures, antibiotics, bags of fluid, and settings for broken bones.