The Tech Side #12: Imperial Starships – The Medical Complex

Starship sickbays – we’ve seen all kinds over the years, haven’t we? Examples include the warm sickbay of the Enterprise, to the industrial, austere treatment centers of Star Wars, overshadowed by industrial overtones and staffed by droids, to the grungy austere sickbay of Serenity in Firefly.

Likewise, in Galaxii, Quantum and Panic! Horror In Space, Terran starships of all kinds, from loderunners to imperial warships all possess a sickbay of some kind. This article looks a little more closely at the technical details.

The sickbay together with it’s extra features and rooms is commonly referred to as the med-plex or ‘medical complex’.

The Med-plex:

Sickbays on Space Fleet ships all come equipped with an airlock at the main entrance which is handy in times of threatening epidemics for decontamination ‘baths’ using sanitizing energy blasts which has been described as ‘a disco-light show’ by crews in the past. For the rest of the time, this airlock remains open and unused and quite unobtrusive.

There is a string of medical security precautions that protect a starship’s sickbay from the rest of the ship – and conversely, the rest of the ship from sickbay! This includes an array of biohazard filters on air supply and recycling – in fact, the sickbay runs on its own sealed sub-system (when the airlock at the entrance is activated). The life-support system and medical instruments run directly off the emergency reserves and are unaffected if the rest of the ship is plunged into darkness if the main power goes offline for any reason.

Beyond the entrance to sickbay, is a row of treatment beds which varies in context of the size of the ship, the crew and consequently, the sickbay itself.

With most medical procedures at this time being bloodless and non-invasive, an operating theater for surgeries has long since faded into medical history – but there is a corner of every sickbay set aside for physical interventions and critical treatment of trauma. For the most part, medical treatments are administered to patients either while consulting the C-Med in the office, a nursing assistant, or in one of the beds in sickbay. Seriously ill or injured patients are kept in the sickbay, while routine patients are given bedrest in their quarters. A small bathroom is situated beside the sickbay for use of staff, visitors and patients, and includes a shower and real bath facility.

The complex includes a small well-equipped laboratory area for analyzing medical samples and developing treatments right down to the genetic level. Understandably, as a precaution, this lab as well as the quarantine ward beside it are treated as a potential biohazard and is kept closed and sealed at all times. The lab is equipped with a disintegrator booth (called an ‘autoclave’) about the size of a microwave oven, which is used to destroy hazardous biological materials within the lab, i.e. in a petri-dish or sample case.

Also, for various reasons, it has been deemed prudent for a direct tie-in to the ships’ security system to be available via the sickbay’s computers, with appropriate access protocols and security measures to ensure it is used only when justified.

In order to ensure that the Chief Medical Officer (or C-Med) is close at hand near the sickbay, the Med-Plex also includes the doctor’s modest accommodations, which also adjoin an office.

Further reading:

In Closing

That about covers it! I hope I’ve explained everything in a way that’s easily understood! I really enjoyed translating my original hand-drawn sketches into digital blueprint diagrams for this article, and I think they look pretty neat that way!

Feel free to email or message me via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions!

Until next time,

Cheers! 🙂


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