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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Federal Medical Stations

Supporting Medical Equipment and Pharmaceutical Needs in Emergencies

Federal medical stations (FMS) are rapidly deployable caches managed by the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) that contain beds, supplies, and medicines that can quickly turn a pre-identified building into a temporary medical shelter during a national emergency. The FMS can support healthcare systems anywhere in the United States.


 


FMS Capabilities By The Numbers

hospital bed
50–250

Primary or critical care patients can be treated at each Federal Medical Station


pills
3 day supply

of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and supplies deployed with each Federal Medical Station

scalable
15,000–40,000

square feet needed to operate a Federal Medical Station


 

Each FMS comes with medical and pharmaceutical resources to sustain from 50 to 250 stable primary or chronic care patients requiring medical and nursing services. The quantities of supplies provided differ between the 50 and 250-bed FMS. However, each come with a three-day supply of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and medical-surgical and general supplies including enhanced care treatment beds, hospital adjustable exam beds, IV poles, pediatric/toddler cots, portable cribs or pack and plays, housekeeping items, nursing station supplies, and personal protective items [e.g., gloves, gowns]), and other equipment for general, special care, and other non-acute care.

Because the equipment and supply cache does not include tents, each FMS requires an appropriate space in which to operate. A 250-bed FMS requires roughly 40,000 square feet of open space, while a 50-bed FMS requires about 15,000 square feet. Wrap-around logistical services must also be coordinated and in place before an FMS can be operational. FMS are not mobile and are not easily relocated once established.

 

Setup at a Federal Medical Station following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico


When is FMS Deployed?

Communities experiencing a large-scale public health and medical emergency, natural disaster, or catastrophic event that overwhelms the affected area’s medical care delivery system and depletes critical medicines and medical supplies can request FMS. Based on a request from state, local, tribal, or territorial (SLTT) government officials for federal public health and medical assistance, the federal government may decide to deploy one or more FMS sets providing beds and medical equipment to support non-acute care, special needs care, or quarantine operations anywhere in the United States. Each station can be tailored to meet the requirements of each incident and can increase local healthcare capabilities in mass casualty events or in response to potential public health threats. In the event state and local supplies are depleted and commercial supplies are unavailable, SLTT officials should contact their assigned HHS REC.

How Does FMS Set-Up and Training Happen?

Use of an FMS requires pre-planning. Prior to an event, SLTT jurisdictions collaborate with HHS RECs to identify anticipated requirements (e.g., conduct FMS site surveys to ensure logistical wraparound services are appropriate and to identify any gaps requiring resolution. FMS site selection criteria should be met for all potential FMS facilities. Based on the emergency response and availability of resources, the SNS may provide an FMS strike team or other assistance to facilitate FMS cache set-up, conduct training for volunteers, and to prepare for an FMS or alternate care site mission. SNS offers responders a just-in-time online video series in English and Spanish to assist with setting up individual components of the FMS. To learn more, see our FMS orientation webinar and training videos.

  • This page last reviewed: February 26, 2021