Tshwane Emergency Services transport COVID-19 patient in state-of the-art ambulance
The Tshwane Emergency Services said it was pleased with its stellar response to a critical COVID-19 patient from Pretoria North, who had to be rushed to Tshwane District Hospital in a state-of the-art Special Infectious Unit ambulance. According to the MMC of Community Safety and Emergency Services, Karen Meyer, the patient was a Priority 2 suspected COVID-19 case but because of state-of-the art technology he was in a stable condition when he was admitted at hospital. The equipment isolates the patient from the crew and helps to lessen the chances of the infection spreading. Tshwane emergency services spokesperson Charles Mabaso said, “The box body of the ambulance is mounted separately from the cabin of the vehicle. It is constructed from aviation technology polyurethane and is a hermetically sealed unit mounted onto the chassis. It has an isolation chamber equipped with a negative pressure filtration system that fits on the stainless steel monobloc ambulance stretcher. The negative pressure isolation chamber allows the patient to be scanned in the chamber without exposing the radiology staff to infection such as COVID-19 and without needing to decontaminate the computerised tomography (CT) scanning suite.” MMC Meyer added, “This ambulance is the first of its kind in South Africa and fulfils the key requirements for responding to and dealing with hazardous material, viral haemorrhagic fever, extensively drug-resistant or multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and more recently COVID-19 patient treatment and transportation,” said Meyer. She said the team of paramedics on the ambulance were trained and equipped to handle medical emergencies where suspected or known cases of infectious or contagious substances were involved. “Fortunately, to date, no member has been infected with COVID-19, largely due to the maintenance of strict protocols and standard operating procedures and the advanced equipment and capabilities of the vehicle,” she said.
While the patient would be inside the stretcher covered with transparent materials, Mabaso said they could breathe and receive medication.
“A 50-litre fridge is installed for refrigerated medications. Piped medical oxygen with two wall outlets, four power points, two ultraviolet antimicrobial lights and filters are installed. It has the capability for critical care level of treatment,” he added.
The ambulance arrived at a time when the safety of health workers has been at the heart of the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic conversation, many raising issues of safety or at least measures set up as they deal directly with infected people and risk of them being infected running at a high.
“It serves as a protective measure, while the patient would be in the isolation chamber the medical practitioners can continue giving treatment to them without easily being infected.
“Just like all other health workers and other frontline workers, paramedics work in an environment with an inherent risk of infection. Our team of paramedics working on the special infectious unit ambulance is trained and equipped to handle medical emergencies where suspected or known cases of infectious substances are involved,” said Mabaso.
Mabaso said the ambulance cost R1,2-million. “We procured the vehicle as part of our vehicle replacement strategy which is aimed at providing world-class emergency services. While the special infectious unit ambulance was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for such a vehicle was identified by our management team while studying the trends of various medical outbreaks, like Ebola and tuberculosis, long before the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The fleet of five vehicles arrived in the city in August 2020. “Thanks to the foresight of the City of Tshwane’s Emergency Services, these specialised vehicles have boosted our response to and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MMC Meyer.
She added that the fact that the City operated these highly specialised vehicles was evidence that the department rendered a world-class emergency medical services response to the residents of the City of Tshwane. “It is also a testament to the need for the City to continue providing such emergency medical services as a fully licensed ambulance operator,” she concluded.
Source: Pretoria News, Record East