Dover Air Force Base plays role in transport isolation systems for COVID-19 patients

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Airmen cover two Transport Isolation Systems with tarps due to inclement weather at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 30, 2020. The TIS units were delivered to Dover AFB by C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. In accordance with health protection policies, Dover AFB will serve as the sole hub for TIS decontamination on the East Coast. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

In the ongoing fight against COVID-19, two Transport Isolation Systems, along with trained medical Airmen, arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware late  last month.

Dover  will serve as the East Coast hub for TIS decontamination in the United States, thanks to its strategic location, assets and capabilities. Airmen will support and decontaminate TIS units whose aircrews are conducting COVID-19 positive patient transport missions from Africa, Europe and the Middle East to the U.S.

The team is composed of members of six different units from across the U.S.

 “The Airmen and infrastructure of Dover AFB are vital to the TIS mission,” said Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing commander. “This is a Total Force effort between active-duty, reservists and civilians. This team stands united against this shared threat, and we remain ready to deliver when called upon.”

The TIS emerged as a result of mobility requirements identified during Operation United Assistance in support of the Ebola outbreak in 2014. This system was designed to provide in-flight medical care while containing any infectious disease, minimizing the risk to aircrew, medical attendants and the airframe.

“We have two TIS modules here, because that is a standard configuration ,” said Maj. Mark Dellinger, 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron training flight commander. “Each has the capability of carrying four patients.”

Medical personnel assigned to the TIS mission receive multi-day training, including familiarization with the system, patient loading/unloading procedures, donning and doffing personal protective equipment, simulated in-flight patient care and infection control procedures.

“The health and safety of our warfighters is paramount,” said Capt. Travis Parrott, 3rd Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot and stage representative for Dover AFB TIS decontamination operations. “The TIS enables the Department of Defense to transport patients afflicted with or suspected of an infectious disease like COVID-19 from overseas to the United States, providing for an expedient recovery of its personnel, as well as preventing the spread of COVID-19 to aircrews.”

Health protection policies have been established at Dover AFB in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Defense, in addition to local and state public health assessments of the evolving situation.

As part of the whole-of-government response to COVID-19, the TIS mission at Dover AFB will continue for as long as required.

“With this mission, Dover AFB is ensuring not only the safety of our mobility Airmen, but also the readiness of our military as a whole,” said Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett, 18th Air Force commander. “I am grateful for all the hardworking Dover Airmen who are helping keep our entire force healthy during the battle against COVID-19.”

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