Here’s how it works. Air is pumped into the columns and beams that support the structure, which are made of heavy material like that found in inflatable lifeboats. Air is also pumped into walls and roofs made of two layers of nylon about 18 inches apart when inflated. The air gives them stiffness and insulating qualities.
Amidst all the heartbreaking stories out of Haiti these past two weeks, I was impressed to see that Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) was deploying an inflatable hospital. An inflatable hospital? What a great idea!
FSI North America produces the inflatable hospital, although they aren’t the only manufacturer selling such buildings. It is listed in their catalog under Multi Purpose Rapid Deploy Shelters. The buildings they sell range from 100 square feet to 1,850 square feet. For the Doctors Without Borders hospital, several buildings are tied together.