The two humanitarian aid workers who were transported from Africa to Emory Hospital via Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia in August flew in one of only three airplanes of its kind in the world. The air ambulance is a modified Gulfstream III, owned by Phoenix Air Group. Savannah Now explains:
In addition to previously installed extensive aeromedical equipment, this GIII is outfitted with a biological containment system specifically designed for patients with highly contagious diseases.
“We’re contracted by both the CDC and the Defense Department to provide transport and in-air medical services for people coming back into the country infected with such things as tuberculosis, SARS, Bird Flu and now Ebola,” Dent said.
To do that, the interior of the GIII has a tent-like, clear plastic structure that has negative air pressure to keep pathogens from entering the cabin.
“It’s what we call an ABC – or Aeromedical Biological Containment – system,” Dent said.
It’s essentially a room within the interior cabin with an outer, airlock chamber that allows our medical people to be in and out during the entire flight.”
Savannah News is describing a flying Level Four Hot Zone, basically, but the problems do not begin and end with the interior of a sealed plane, and approval for evacuation of a health care worker who gets sick in Africa is not automatic. In fact, today unfortunately, there is a tragic headline titled, Ebola outbreak: WHO denies request from Sierra Leone to evacuate infected doctor. On the given reason there is only this:
“WHO is unable to organize evacuation of this doctor to (Germany)
How is this possible? Please turn your attention to the video in the post titled “CDC Expects to MEDEVAC 3 Ebola Scientists per Month,” where Potrblog analyzes the US State Department’s urgent contract with Phoenix Air Group for the use of the only two planes to evacuate an expected three CDC workers per month. If you look at the analysis of the contract carefully, it is literally an unworkable hot mess in the end, giving the CDC a false sense of security when they would otherwise perhaps not deploy.
The problems do not come from the outfitting of the specialized Gulfstream III airplane. The issues arise in where the plane can fly, what countries it can fly over, how sick the patients can be, where the plane can land and refuel, whether or not the patients can receive basic water or IVs or care during any stop on the ground or not.
For example, based on the video, evacuation to Germany is impossible because no European country will allow an air ambulance to fly through European airspace and no airport will allow the jet to land and refuel.
The air ambulance was permitted to refuel at a military airport in the Azores when it transported the Americans.
Given the severe limitations on where the air ambulance can fly and land and how much it will cost, there appears to be little likelihood that any non-American afflicted with Ebola will be transported out of Africa for treatment.
Emergency Aeromedical Evacuation Services
Solicitation Number: SAQMMA14C0155
Agency: Department of State
Office: Office of Acquisitions
CDC: Three Scientists Per Month Expected To Catch Ebola As A result of US Surge Into Africa
Location: INL Support