Isopods for Classic Air

Courtesy of Classic Air Medical/Special to the Chronicle.

By Bob Hembree
Lake Powell Chronicle

PAGE – Transporting patients for medical attention while keeping first responders safe is an urgent necessity now more than ever. Many aren’t prepared. Fortunately, medical products to help solve this problem exist – if you can get your hands on them. Classic Air Medical Services manage to do just that. They needed a way to safely transport patients infected with COVID-19 and protect their crews.

The solution is called an isopod. According to a manufacturer, “it’s a negative-pressure individual patient isolation and transportation system that keeps contamination and disease inside the unit, protecting first responders while simultaneously allowing for life-saving medical procedures. Designed with the advice of doctors and emergency personnel, it was used extensively during the Ebola and MERS crises.”
The company says it can be set up in less than two minutes.

Regional public relations officer Richard Leightner, who spoke on behalf of Classic Air management, said, “It’s a game changer. It protects everyone involved. It provides safety for the first responders and for the patients.”
Classic’s crews were trained immediately when the isopods arrived early April, this included everything from setting it up, preparing patients and crew and decontaminating the units after use. Leightner said, cleaning the isopod after use is an extensive process.

Classic Air has already put the pods to use, but because of privacy laws and guidelines, Leightner was not able to say how much use.

For Page patients, this means they can be transported by air rather than by ambulance to the larger hospitals for care.

All Classic Air Medical aircraft are equipped with ventilators which are essential in dealing with COVID-19 since it is a virus that causes difficulty breathing. The isopods also have multiple openings for medical professionals to work through en route.

“There is just not enough information about the healthcare workers getting sick for us to feel okay with us sending anybody in a rotor with just an N-95 mask on,” said Classic Air Medical Executive Director of Clinical Operations April Larsen. “The pilots couldn’t have the ability to wear goggles with their helmets. They are within that 6- to 8-foot distance of droplets.”

CAM crew members take additional safety measures, like wearing a Tyvek suit, N-95 masks, and goggles when helping a positive or suspected positive patient. Wearing Tyvek suits is exhausting, so crew members are added to the teams.