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Travis AFB designs TIS ramp, supports evacuation of U.S. service member with COVID-19

photos of a TIS unit and Airmen securing it to an aircraft

U.S. Airmen load a Transportation Isolation System unit in a C-17 Globemaster III June 24, 2020, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The yellow ramp attached to the capsule allows aeromedical evacuation Airmen to safely load patients into the capsule. The ramp was prototyped by the 60th Maintenance Squadron’s fabrication flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell)

photos of a TIS unit and Airmen securing it to an aircraft

A loading ramp sits on the cargo floor of a C-17 Globemaster III in front of a Transportation Isolation System unit June 24, 2020, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The ramp covers rollers on a C-17 Globemaster III, allowing aeromedical evacuation Airmen to more safely load patients into the capsule. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell)

photos of a TIS unit and Airmen securing it to an aircraft

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Matthew Coica, 628th Medical Support Squadron lead for transportation Isolation system operations at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, lowers a newly fabricated ramp to the cargo floor of a C-17 Globemaster III, June 24, 2020, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The 60th Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight prototyped a loading ramp to cover the rollers in front of a TIS unit, which will allow aeromedical evacuation Airmen to safely load patients into the capsule. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Airmen from Travis AFB designed a solution to safely transport COVID-19 patients and eliminate unnecessary risk during aeromedical evacuation missions.

Military AE teams are responsible for providing care for wounded and ill service members during flight. Many of these missions traverse numerous countries, oceans and at times, battle fields.

Airmen at Travis AFB supported the first medical evacuation of a U.S. service member diagnosed with COVID-19 from the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility using the Transportation Isolation System July 17. The TIS is a disease containment unit that reduces the risk of exposure to medical teams and aircrew when transporting infected patients.

Prior to the success of that mission, safety hazards that could make transporting a patient on military aircraft increasingly difficult, were identified said Master Sgt. Matthew Coica, 628th Medical Support Squadron lead for TIS operations at Charleston AFB, South Carolina.

There are several rollers inside the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 aircraft, which are often used to support AE missions, that present a stepping hazard and at times, can be slippery, Coica said.

“As you step in the TIS, there is also a three-inch gap on the lip you have to step up to,” he said. “Imagine you’re carrying a patient while wearing a full HAZMAT (hazardous material) suit. Your visibility is reduced, as well as your dexterity and you have a 200-pound patient with an extra 100-pounds of medical equipment and you’re approaching the TIS.”

This situation could lead to dropping the patient who could be in critical condition and risk exposing everyone to infection, Coica said.

Airmen assigned to the 60th Maintenance Squadron’s fabrication flight at Travis AFB designed a loading ramp for the TIS in May over the course of seven days to make loading and offloading patients easier.

“We fabricated the ramp out of plywood in two sections connected by a hinge to account for the break angle down to the floor after the last roller,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Kahawaiolaa, 60th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance fabrication flight production lead. “The ramp is as wide as the TIS and extends past the rollers so AE Airmen can safely walk into it.”

The ramp attaches to the TIS and lays flat on top of the rollers, providing AE crews with the capability to load and offload patients more quickly and safely.

Not only did the 60th MXS share the ramp prototype design with other Air Force bases, but they also gave one of the ramps they fabricated to the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany

“The fabrication flight at Ramstein didn’t have the resources to create the ramp,” Kahawaiolaa said. “Being able to help Airmen do their jobs across the globe is an amazing feeling. Our team was able to enhance the safety and care for both the AE team and patients.”