SANTIAGO, Chile --
During the 2016 FIDAE Air and Space Trade Show, several Airmen from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., teamed up with members from the Air Mobility Command to participate in a subject matter expert exchange with the Chilean air force on the use of the Transport Isolation System, a medical transportation system capable of moving highly contagious individuals around the world safely.
The TIS currently at FIDAE was deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
The TIS was unveiled Jan. 23, 2015, after 60 days of planning, developing, and testing and provides the Department of Defense with the capability to transport multiple patients affected by highly contagious diseases, such as Ebola, safely via aircraft.
“The question was asked, how can we transport contagious people on an aircraft, “said Maj. Joshua Vess, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) international health specialist. “It would be impossible, with all the nooks and crannies, to decontaminate an entire aircraft. So, the concept for the TIS came from the need to move multiple people who had contracted a highly infectious diseases.”
Previous to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa, policy dictated that those who contracted infectious diseases would be treated in country. That is not the case anymore, which led TRANSCOM to author a joint urgent operational needs statement that challenged the defense engineering community to come up with an operational solution for the requirement to move both the patient and the caretakers appropriately aboard military aircraft.
Currently, the TIS is configurable to the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft, with the first four isolation systems to be staged at Joint Base Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, where it is now ready for operational use. Each module is roughly 9 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and 8.5 feet tall and weighs less than 1,500 pounds -- about the size of a minivan.
AFSOUTH Surgeon General’s office helped facilitate bringing the TIS and setting up the subject matter expert exchange with the Chilean air force at the FIDAE Air and Space Trade Show.
“By bringing this capability to FIDAE, Air Mobility Command is helping advance the U.S. Southern Command and AFSOUTH Surgeon General’s efforts to foster open lines of communication across military medical communities throughout our area of responsibility,” Vess added. “With recent emerging infectious diseases, like Ebola and Zika, partner nations and their military missions will continue to be challenged. The TIS’s presence at FIDAE communicates the USAF’s desire to share the knowledge and technology with our partner nations, and reinforces the need to share bio-surveillance data to ensure regional security and support one another in the fight to advance the health of all within our hemisphere.”
Exchanges like this are conducted regularly throughout the year and involve U.S. Airmen sharing best practices and procedures to build partnerships and promote interoperability with partner-nation air forces throughout South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
U.S. Southern Command is a joint military command supporting U.S. national security objectives, in cooperation with domestic and international partners, in order to foster security, ensure stability, and promote prosperity throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean and the global community.
Air Forces Southern serves as the air component to U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for providing air and space capabilities in support of U.S. military partnerships across U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.