Defence Contracts

Business in natural disasters

Business in natural disasters

Smiths Detection developed the portable emergency room to treat soldiers on the battlefield.

But the tornado that tore through Joplin, Mo., last month, executives at the Edgewood manufacturer say, showed another potential use.

The twister, one of the worst in U.S. history, destroyed the main hospital in the town of 49,000, leaving no sterile place in which doctors could provide care to disaster victims.

"We could have quickly deployed the system and helped people who had been hurt," said Tom Brown, the director of business development at Smiths.

In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Japan tsunami and other disasters,...