JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
Joint Base Charleston hosted members from Air Mobility Command and the University of Nebraska Medical Center for a transportable isolation system training and research event March 14, 2018. The TIS, an enclosed negative pressure medical pod with clear walls, is an isolation unit designed to provide in-flight medical care for patients with highly infectious diseases.
The training helped identify and solve problems and ways to further improve the process of using the TIS in a real-world scenario.
“This was part of a joint research project with AMC and the University of Nebraska,” said Maj. Melissa Buzbee-Styles, AMC deputy chief of in-route medical care. “We tested the TIS to ensure the operational policies and procedures work, as well as seeing if the training is set up for success.”
Buzbee-Styles, and AMC, hope to conduct simulations in the future while flying for a more realistic evacuation scenario.
JB Charleston brought in aeromedical evacuation Airmen from Pope Army Air Field, N.C. and Scott Air Force Base, Ill. because of their prior experience training with the TIS.
“We pulled aeromedical evacuation teams from different bases to train them in case they are needed in a real world scenario,” said Staff Sgt. Peter Boyd, 628th Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment repair technician. “Working together with Airmen from other bases has been great. We’ve all kind of melded together working toward one goal.”
Along with other AMC Airmen, members of the University of Nebraska Medical Center staff were on site to assess the training as research to improve the TIS and the transporting process.
“The University of Nebraska was joined with AMC in the research process to identify potential redesigns and improvements to the TIS and to refine some of the protocols,” said John Lowe, University of Nebraska Medical Center assistant vice chancellor for health security. “With the experiences we’ve been through we’ve developed a robust knowledge base related to aeromedical isolation care.”
During the training, members primarily focused on loading and offloading patients as well as making sure they had everything needed for treatment to keep patients stable during transport.
“The scenario consisted of a flight crew flying into an African country to pick up suspected, exposed and confirmed Ebola patients and transporting them back to receive proper medical care,” said Buzbee-Styles. “We want to make sure patients who may have a potentially infectious disease don’t infect the aircraft, crew or medical caregivers.”
Along with evacuation protocols, aerosol studies were conducted to verify the TIS was not releasing pathogens into the aircraft.
The training is designed to make the system and process smoother and members who work with the TIS are confident it will be a seamless process if needed in the near future.
“We could accomplish the mission if the TIS needed to go out tomorrow with wonderful success,” said Capt. Stephen McCrory, 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse. “But you can always improve.”
According to Buzbee-Styles, JB Charleston was a more than accommodating host for visiting members.
“The ground support we’ve gotten here at Charleston has been tremendous,” said Buzbee-Styles. “The 628th Medical Group is a true supporter of this mission.”
With all the work put in during the event, the results could shape the future of in-flight medical care.
“It’s a tedious, but worthy process,” said McCrory. “It’s like building a cathedral. Is it hard, yes, but you’re building something so much bigger than yourself and that’s what being in the military is all about.”