The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is funding the development and validation testing of a Transport Isolation System (TIS) to be used for the safe evacuation of personnel exposed to Ebola.
The contract award to Production Products Manufacturing and Sales Co., Inc. (PPStL) of St. Louis, Missouri, is expected to be approximately four and a half months in duration. The award is valued at $2,380,505.
PPStL will development a palletized modular TIS to better enable air transport of infected (or potentially infected) individuals with Ebola or other infectious agents on military aircraft.
Requirements for the TIS include:
- Provide protection to the aircraft environment from diseases
- Isolate the infectious patients
- Protect against disease spread by contact, droplet and respiratory means during transport
- Negative pressure must be maintained IAW CDC guidelines
- Prevent leaks of liquid contamination through the floor and adjoining wall areas
- Allow for repeated ingress and egress through an anteroom
- Space suitable for the processing of personnel in pairs in order ensure adherence to WHO decontamination and PPE removal protocols
- A secure seat as well as an anti-skid floor for aircrew personnel removing, disinfecting, and disposing PPE.
- Visible indicator to monitor interior pressure
- Visible and audible alarm that alerts the user to loss of negative pressure
- Provide a toxic free environment capable of continuous operation for a minimum of 24 hours
- Able to accommodate other medical equipment (to include standard NATO litters) to support medical treatments during transport
The modules must additionally be able to be configured to accommodate up to 12 ambulatory patients; up to 8 litter patients; or a combination of up to 6 ambulatory and 4 litter patients.
PPStL developed and delivered the Aeromedical Biological Containment System (ABCS) that was used by Phoenix Air to evacuate all four of the initial Ebola patients that were moved to the US and is continuing to be used for this purpose.
This ABCS development gave PPStL significant experience in containment of biological aerosols, and the engineering and testing standards that had to be met in order to gain certification for aircraft use.
“Market research conducted by the Department of State, the USAF, and DTRA indicated only five systems were available that could possibly be used to transport the patients,” states the funding announcement. “Four of these five systems either required extensive work of eighteen months or longer to meet the government requirements or were deemed inadequate by the DoD Surgeon Generals office.”
The fifth system, the proposed TIS system, was the only technology that could be developed within the required timeframe and it could do this by leveraging Production Product’s previous work and extensive experience on the ABCS, stated DTRA.