Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Hospitals on wheels
MASH – Wheeled Support Vehicle (20 tons)
Power Plant : Hermes 100 Fusion
Cruise Speed : 54.0 kph (5)
Flank Speed : 86.4 kph (8)
Armor : Star Slab/Sheet (Armor Factor 640) : 4 tons
Front – 12
Right Side – 16
Left Side – 16
Rear – 10
Turret – 10
Two (2) ChisComp 32 Small Lasers (Turret)
Manufacturer : Various
Communications System : Achernar Electronics HICK-4
Medical Equipment Manufacturer : Mercy Industries of Talon
Overview : Literally a hospital on wheels, this large sophisticated MASH truck is able to supply wounded pilots and soldiers with the finest possible medical care.
Traditionally, every well-equipped regiment has access to at least one MASH. The vehicle needs to station itself as close to a combat zone as possible, typically in an open field near a transit nexus and several roads. The MASH then “unfolds” (using equipment similar to a LAM) and powers up its medical equipment. Engineers typically devise a form of landing pad to handle the air vehicles (usually Cobra MASH VTOLs in SL formations) that will ferry the wounded from the front lines to the safer rear locations, allowing evacuation off-world, at need. Though only lightly armed, the MASH is rarely attacked, since it typically provides its services to the wounded of both sides of any battle, and its crews are too valuable to lose.
Capabilities : A MASH is capable of supplying the highest level of medical care. Often manned by the best civilian surgeons, it is capable of permitting even the most delicate surgeries, as long as it is provided with medical supplies and remains unmolested.
Having been placed at a location, the MASH team unhitches the vehicle’s entire right side, which is hinged along its bottom edge. The entire panel lowers to the level of the truck’s bed, and becomes an extension of the hospital floor, is fixed in place with bracing underneath. A temporary series of cloth walls and roof are erected around the extension, connecting the truck’s interior into one open operational space. The expanded area can now be made sterile, and await the arrival of the wounded; the entire process takes about two hours with an experienced team.
Using materials unloaded from the truck’s interior, several other temporary structures can be built. One group is for triage, the screening of wounded to determine the severity of their injuries. Another contains medical diagnostic equipment, such as fluid analyzers, x-ray machines and neuro-scanners, all hooked through lines to the truck’s fusion plant. The last group of buildings are a medical bay to monitor recuperating patients, where they can either recover or await shipment elsewhere, back to battle or a more secure facility, or even off-world.
The interior of a MASH is a high-tech affair. Processing computers aboard each operational theater will examine the results of data fed into them regarding each patient, and even suggests a plan of action for a surgeon. Its database is extensive regarding medications, illnesses and surgical techniques, many perfected by Star League medics after hundreds of years practical experience.
Surgery is accomplished using an automated table with robotic arms to administer various drugs and anesthesia. The table automatically dispenses any surgical tools required, via a group of robotic hands which keeps things sterile and clean. The MASH computer provides updates on the patient’s condition via verbal earphone communications, as well as visual information on a small holographic tablet above the patient. The machine understands many basic procedures, including sutures, and can assist the surgeon in performing routine tasks with its many hands.
The surgical theater also provides an “emergency freeze” procedure, where a large, clear cover descends onto the table, becoming a large air-tight tube that can be filled with a clear, oxygen-rich liquid, that both slows the body’s processes and keeps things clean. Further operations can continue, with the table providing tools under the canopy while the surgeon can operate using integral sleeves accessing the interior.
Following a successful operation, the MASH computer offers post-op care, medications needed, and other notes for future reference. This information is made available through computers in the post-op ward for nursing care.
Each MASH has the potential for five operating theaters, though existing units have only a single one. Should the unit need to evacuate a site, breakdown of the site takes about two hours (more with a less-experienced crew), and once assembled, the truck can also haul away six of the most serious patients in a safe, secure environment.
Lightly armed, mostly to discourage theft of the units than inflict damage, the large red crosses painted on its sides and roof keep it from most conflict. Its sides remain, however, well-armored due to the mistakes in a fog-of-war situation.
Mercenaries tend to be very fond of acquiring these vehicles, especially since they represent a high degree of care to those without access to hospitals near a battle’s front-lines. Some of the more notorious groups have been known to kill the drivers and steal them, or blockade the roads it travels along and force it to surrender. Some civilian doctors are known to remove the small lasers on ethical grounds.
Deployment : MASH units can be found in every army’s support structure on every world, though the design presented is the Davion version. Even basic planetary militias have at least one operational MASH vehicle available. Larger House units have fleets of them; the Davion Brigade of Guards is known to have over 250 units assigned to them.
Variants : MASH trucks vary only in an operational capacity; there are ones for triage, operation theaters, temporary post-op recovery, and medical/pharmaceutical storage. Basic MASH units consist of at least a triage and a theater truck. The White Whales of the FWL consist of convoys of white MASH units, usually mostly theater and supply units.
After the Succession Wars, some MASH trucks were converted to ICE engines due to dwindling supplies of fusion engines. However, power requirements have proven to be high enough that most such systems result in systemic power outages in the middle of critical procedures. No ICE-equipped MASH trucks have been in service since 2815.