Air Alliance has announced that they have added another important component to their medical competence spectrum. After thorough crew training, their state-of-the-art transport insulation system "EpiShuttle" is now ready for take off!
Air Alliance Medical director Dr. Gert Muurling explains what it is all about.
When are isolation units used in ambulance flights?
In principle, most infectious patients can be easily transported if there is sufficient distance. However, this distance does not exist in most ambulance aircraft. In addition, the forward ventilation would endanger the pilots in smaller jets. If they also had to put on protective clothing with a mask, communication with the air traffic controllers would only be possible to a limited extent. To avoid these problems, we have purchased an isolation unit (EpiShuttle). This enables us to transport any infectious patient - including CoVID-19 patients and even patients with hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. The protective clothing is for our crews is only required when loading and unloading the patient.
What is the EpiShuttle and what are its advantages?
EpiShuttle is a modular, reusable insulation system. The system was developed by anesthesiologists / intensive care physicians from the University Hospital of Oslo for the transport of high-risk operations and of patients with multi-resistant pathogens. The EpiShuttle offers significantly more comfort for patients than other systems on the market thanks to a more spacious interior, more distance for the patient from the hard plastic hood, multi-adjustable stretcher and more width. The system can also be used on long-haul routes.
For us clinicians, other features are of course crucial: the perfect assessment of the patient through the hood, the built-in sealing membrane openings for cables and lines as well as a separate access for the ventilation system make treatment and monitoring of the patient from the outside possible. Disinfection is also straightforward.
In case of infectious patients, the system works with negative pressure: air is sucked in through a filter system at the head end and blown off via filter at the foot end. Conversely, you can also work with overpressure to protect immunosuppressed patients.
What is the maximum number of contagious patients that can be transported on one flight?
In general, infectious patients with different pathogens should not be transported together. However, for the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is primarily one and the same virus. This defuses the situation. If patients are located in different isolation units, there is no danger. This way, we can safely transport two infection patients in the same jet with two isolation units on our Challenger 604.
Are companions allowed on EpiShuttle flights?
From the space available in the Challenger 604, it would be possible to take one or two companions along. However, one has to assume that accompanying persons on site also had closer contact with the patient and could therefore themselves be contaminated. Therefore, I consider it critical to take family members on such flights because they pose a risk to our staff. Here we decide in individual cases.
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