Transporting of COVID-19 patients
The transport system for infectious patients enables us to transport COVID-19 patients safely. The innovative “EpiShuttle” protects patients and their environment.
State-of-the-art isolation unit
We are very pleased to have added another important component to our range of medical competencies: following the thorough training of our crew, our state-of-the-art transport insulation system, the “EpiShuttle” is now in use. Our medical director, Dr Gert Muurling, explains what it is all about.
Use of isolation units
When are isolation units used in air ambulance flights? In general, most patients can be transported without any problems as long as there is sufficient distance between them and the others in their midst. In air ambulance flights, however, such a distance cannot be achieved. In addition to this, due to the forwards direction of the ventilation, the pilots in the smaller jets would be at risk. If they were also required to wear protective clothing with a mask, the communication with air traffic controllers would be restricted. To avoid these problems, we have purchased an isolation unit (Epishuttle). This means it is possible to transport any infectious patient - including CoVID-19 patients or even patients with haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola. The protective clothing is then only required when loading and unloading the patient.
Advantages of the EpiShuttle
What is the EpiShuttle and what are its advantages? EpiShuttle is an isolation system with a modular design which is also reusable. The system was developed by anaesthetists/intensive care physicians at the University Hospital of Oslo for high-risk applications and for the daily transport of patients with multi-resistant pathogens. The EpiShuttle offers significantly more comfort for patients than other products due to its larger interior, and additional clearance due to its hard plastic hood, its multi-adjustable stretcher and its greater width. The system is also ideal for use over long distances.
For medical professionals like us, other attributes are also decisive: The perfect assessment of the patient through the hood, the built-in sealing membrane openings for cables and lines, as well as separate access for the ventilation system mean that the treatment and monitoring of the patient from the outside is also possible. The disinfection is also straightforward. This means that the EpiShuttle can be used again quickly.
In the case of infectious patients, the system works with negative pressure: the air is drawn in at the head of the bed through a filter system and dissipated at the end of the bed through filters. At the same time, it is also possible to work with overpressure in order to protect patients with weak immune systems.
What is the maximum number of infectious patients that can be transported on one flight? In general, no infectious patients with different pathogens should be transported together. The current COVID-19 pandemic, however, primarily consists of one and the same virus. This makes the situation less difficult. We are able to transport two COVID-19 patients at the same time. If both patients are each in one isolation unit, there is no risk.
Are accompanying persons allowed on flights with the Epishuttle?
With the space available in the Challenger 604 it would be possible to carry one or two accompanying persons. However, it must be assumed that accompanying persons on site also may also have been in close contact with the patient, and could themselves be infected. I therefore consider taking friends or family members on such flights to be a cause for concern, as they may pose a risk to our staff. In such instances, we decide on a case-by-case basis.
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