Luftambulansetjenesten has turned to the EpiShuttle isolation system from EpiGuard to transport coronavirus patients. However, the system is too big to use in the small fixed-wing aircraft operated on EMS flights from short runways in the north of Norway.
As a solution to the problem, Lufttransport overhauled an AS332 L1 Super Puma at the Stavanger-based Heli One. Kjetil Indrevik, COO of Lufttransport, said: “In the north, we have two meters of snow and it is still snowing, so this Super Puma was just what was needed. It wasn’t exactly in a thousand pieces, but it needed a lot of work doing and Heli One did a great job in getting it ready and then we flew it to our base in Tromsø.”
Just nine days after the initial request, the Super Puma was in service at Tromsø with two Lufttransport pilots and one technician to operate the aircraft and one doctor and two paramedics caring for the patient in the EpiShuttle capsule.
Indrevik said: “Normally they fly SAR missions at Svalbard, and some of our pilots have been operating in this area for about 20 years as HEMS pilots, and they know every mountain. They are comfortable with flying Covid-19 patients partly because they have a lot of confidence in the EpiShuttle but also because the Super Puma air conditioning system flows the air backwards in the cabin so that it is taken away from the crew area. That, together with good procedures in case of contamination, is sure to keep the whole crew safe.”