Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keewatin Air is now ready to commence using the EpiShuttle, an isolation pod designed by EpiGuard to enable contagious patients to be transported safely.
The Canadian airline joined hospital staff at the Health Sciences Centre’s simulation lab and Stretcher Service of Manitoba in extensive training, including trial runs using the EpiShuttle.
“We now have operational certification from Transport Canada to deploy single-patient isolation and transport units, called EpiShuttles, in our Pilatus PC-12 aircraft,” said Janet Busse, Keewatin Air’s executive director of medical operations. “Keewatin, along with Alberta Health Services fixed-wing air ambulance, has EpiShuttles in operation.”
With the EpiShuttles in place, the medevac services providers can perform patient monitoring and full intensive care of infected patients during air, sea and land transport.
“Canadian healthcare workers and first responders are making an admirable effort transporting patients while putting their own health on the line,” said Ellen Cathrine Andersen, CEO of EpiGuard. “We hope that the EpiShuttle will make their job safer and patient transport easier.”
In case of a local outbreak, Keewatin Air can now offer fast and safe transport, even from remote locations. The PC-12’s short takeoff and landing capabilities make it able to service the smallest and remote communities with modest airstrips. This includes missions to Alert, the most northerly community in Canada and the world, at latitude 82°, about 800 miles from the North Pole.
Keewatin Air is subsidiary of a larger group of airlines owned by Exchange Income Corporation and operates a variety of aircraft within the group. Keewatin Air is also working on certificates to perform mass evacuations with EpiShuttles in ATR and Dash 8 aircraft as well. In hotspots with COVID-19 outbreaks, patients may need transport to places with available ICU capacity. The hope is that with safe transport in place, Canada can utilise the full capacity of its entire healthcare system and ensure treatment for everyone.
“We found the EpiShuttle to have unparalleled features,” said Busse. “The EpiShuttle allows patient monitoring and full intensive care treatment during transport, including emergency procedures like intubation and insertion of central venous catheters. In addition, for COVID-19 patients, the adjustable backrest is extremely important to keep coughing at a minimum. However, it was the fact that the EpiShuttle is re-usable, making it the most cost-efficient product on the market, which made us decide on the EpiShuttle.”
“The EpiShuttle makes transport safe, reduces cost and increases operational efficiency of COVID-19 patient transport,” said Andersen. “An ambulance usually requires 2-4 hours of disinfection between every infectious transport, and with an entire aircraft, it can take almost a full day. Disinfection puts transport vessels out of play, and in case of exposure, a whole team can be grounded for days. The pandemic compromises the entire medevac system. That is why it is crucial with airtight single patient isolation and transport.”
The EpiShuttle is in use all over the world, in all continents. Five major air forces have already purchased the EpiShuttle, as well as ground ambulance services, private air transport companies and hospitals. The EpiShuttle is NATO stock listed and CE-marked as a class-one medical device.