This is probably one of the many RETEX health crises: the General Arms Administration (DGA) is looking for new solutions to limit highly contagious patients during their evacuation. But before considering purchasing in favor of the Armed Forces Health Service (SSA), it is necessary to study the current market.
The initial observation is reminiscent of the ongoing crisis: ” It is necessary to anticipate the occurrence of highly contagious patients or even the emergence of an epidemic in forces deployed in external operations (OPEX) or on a ship of the French Navy “, Indicates DGA. It is difficult not to mention the 1,081 sailors from the aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle”, which gave a positive result on Covid-19 in April 2020.
Operation Resilience required the urgent adaptation of available evacuation procedures, equipment and vectors. So many “masters” who saved lives and demonstrated the sensitivity of forces, but which now need to be supplemented with appropriate and long-lasting tools.
This is a call to a program called “EPCPRB”, which is piloted by the NBC-TER DGA Procurement Department. The latter yesterday requested information to check the technical and industrial capabilities of the market. This future potential should allow for the care of infected patients from the front to army training hospitals. ” in order to limit their impact on the operational capability of the forces to carry out medical evacuations in accordance with aviation standards and to ensure the continuity of medical care. “.
The identified need relates to a system that allows to hold and transport individually or in groups of up to four patients. Although airtight, it should not prevent caregivers from performing certain medical procedures, such as medication, monitoring of vital signs, or defibrillation.
Patients, materials and nursing staff can be kept there together, then the system acts as a “barrier” for the rest of the vehicles used and its crew. Technical choice that will do without the stage of disinfection and prevent the wearing of protective equipment by non-medical personnel. The system must remain in operation for 10 years and be able to be reused at least 50 times without resorting to decontamination solutions.
” The system must be able to be transported by air and ground equipment provided by the French army “, – adds DGA. By “terrestrial” should we mean a device adapted to the VAB SAN and medical versions of its successors, the 196 Griffon SAN and 135 Serval SAN, which are expected by the SSA by 2032? Similarly, does the airborne application apply to a future version of the MEDEVAC HIL Cheetah, available from 2027 under the SSA? DGA does not specify this, its request for information only mentions the use of ” on airplanes “.
Several Made in France solutions are already available on the market, some of which emerged after the health crisis. This is the case of CUBE, a biologically protected emergency department for epidemics developed by Securotec in Rhône. Invented in partnership with the Ebola virus, this isolator was then modified to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic. Securotec is also behind a portable isolation chamber (PIC), waterproof and lightweight stretcher equipped with a ventilation system with a HEPA filter. As of 2020, this PIC has been evaluated by the Armed Forces Biomedical Research Institute (IRBA) and the Air Force with a view to possible adaptation to several types of aircraft.