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Negative for Covid-19

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron offload a Negatively Pressurized Conex-Lite from a C-17 Globemaster III at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Aug. 3, 2020. The NPC-Lite is an isolated containment chamber designed to transport individuals with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Parsons)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron offload a Negatively Pressurized Conex-Light from a C-17 Globemaster III at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Aug. 3, 2020. The NPC-Light is an isolated containment chamber designed to transport individuals with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Parsons)

Shown is the antechamber entrance of a Negatively Pressurized Conex, or NPC.

Shown is the antechamber entrance of a Negatively Pressurized Conex, or NPC. The antechamber separates the cargo area of the aircraft from the area containing the infected patients. Air is drawn from the aircraft into the anteroom through two sets of filters before passing into the patient area. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Travis Burcham)

Shown is the antechamber and patient area of a Negatively Pressurized Conex, or NPC.

Shown is the antechamber and patient area of a Negatively Pressurized Conex, or NPC. The NPC is divided into two sections. The patient compartment is for the COVID-19 patients, both ambulatory, seated, and those on litters, including patients requiring ventilators and the aeromedical personnel. The anteroom separates the cargo area of the aircraft from the area containing the infected patients. Control boxes with signal lights in both compartments allow for communication between care personnel and multiple windows enable coordination of care. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Travis Burcham)

Shown is the patient entrance of a Negatively Pressurized Conex, or NPC.

Shown is the patient entrance of a Negatively Pressurized Conex, or NPC. The NPC has high-efficiency particulate air filters and blowers that make the air pressure inside the NPC less than that of the aircraft cargo area essentially making it function like a laboratory clean room. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Travis Burcham)

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) --

Nearly a year ago, in the midst of pandemic, a team composed of representatives of more than a dozen military and civilian organizations responded to a Joint Urgent Operational Need request, issued by U.S. Transportation Command, to develop equipment and procedures to enable the high-capacity airlift of COVID-19 patients on mobility aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules, while maintaining the health and readiness of aeromedical personnel and aircrews.

The result was the rapid, and novel, solution of transforming existing 40-foot CONEX containers into air-mobile biocontainment isolation wards – the Negatively Pressured CONEX; and designing and fabricating a similar new 30-foot aluminum container for use on C-130 aircraft, the Negative Pressure CONEX-Light.

The endeavor needed to succeed quickly to maintain air mobility readiness. In an exemplary feat of coordination and teamwork, led by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center partnered with the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Air Mobility Command and other military and civilian partners, these systems went from concept to operations in less than 100 days.

To date, nine NPCs and six NPCLs are positioned strategically around the world having flown 37 missions, across five geographic commands, carrying 267 U.S. military, civilian, dependent and contractor COVID-19 patients with no confirmed cases of infection spreading to air or aeromedical crews in flight. Another six NPCs and four NPCLs are being stored in ready status.

To dive further into the story, read the rest of Negative for COVID-19 on the official Airman Magazine website.

Prefer video instead? See the Negative for COVID-19 video here.

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