Medically equipped Hercules plane to transport Manitoba ICU patients to other provinces

Click to play video: 'Operation LASER plane to help transport Manitoba ICU patients' Operation LASER plane to help transport Manitoba ICU patients
The Canadian Armed Forces provided this glimpse into the Hercules plane and containment system that will transport ill ICU patients from Manitoba to other provinces as needed – May 28, 2021

Manitobans who are transported to Intensive Care Units in other hospitals will do so in military style.

Starting Friday, COVID-19 patients who are taken to hospitals in Ontario or Saskatchewan will be sent in a specially equipped military Hercules aircraft, complete with an isolation pod.

Photos obtained by Global News show the inside the aircraft where a large isolation pod has been set up, complete with medical equipment and filtration systems.

The plane can transport two patients at a time, six medical personnel and four flight crew personnel.

Read more: Military set to arrive in Manitoba Friday to provide COVID-19 help

The Royal Canadian Air Force confirmed the details Friday afternoon, saying the Hercules contains what is called an Aeromedical Bio-containment Evacuation System.

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“The ABES is a sea-container-sized, specially-designed isolation unit that fits in CC-130 Hercules and CC-177 Globemaster aircraft to provide a space where multiple infected patients can be safely treated by medical staff while ensuring the safety of the aircraft’s crew during long domestic or trans-border flights,” said RCAF public affairs officer Lt. Miguel Moldez.

The inside of the medical pod on the Hercules aircraft. Submitted

The federal government pledged support to Manitoba last week, as ICU numbers in local hospitals filled to nearly double normal capacity.

So far, more than 20 people have been transported to ICUs in Ontario, and one person on their way to being transported has died.

The RCAF confirmed Tuesday they will support Manitoba with military personnel beginning Friday, including two multi-purpose medical assistance teams made up of critical care nursing officers and medical technicians.

Critical care patient aeromedical transportation is also included in the support.

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The inside of the specially equipped Hercules plane. Submitted

The overall number of personnel being deployed will fluctuate, they said, depending on need. All personnel will be vaccinated.

On Friday, Moldez said three lab techs and two multi-purpose medical teams are now in Winnipeg and will start helping Shared Health on Saturday.

CAF units and personnel have come from 3rd Canadian Division, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Forces Health Services Group.

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