A mobile isolation unit hits the ground running and it’s an innovative transport system that protects patients and medical workers.

It takes some of the weight off their shoulders — literally.

The EpiShuttle allows first responders to care for and transfer contagious patients without donning heavy personal protective equipment, or PPE.

The EpiShuttle, the isolation transport system, was born from another crisis, the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Andy Carter-Weston is part of the United Kingdom’s hazardous area response team.

‘We’re a specialist unit that supports the ambulance service in difficult incidents,” he said.

He teaches fellow first responders how to use the units designed to keep caregivers safe while allowing access to a contagious patient.

“You can put an intravenous cannula in. You can manage the airway. All of those things are achievable with a bit of training,” he said. “You have to understand the limitations because they are thick heavy gloves, so that reduces dexterity and your feeling. So you have to be more concentrated in what you are doing.”

The protective barrier of the EpiShuttle means less protective equipment on the caregiver.

“It allows us to work in normal uniform but with smaller amount of PPE on and that allows us to kind of work a lot longer,” Carter-Weston said. “Because the PPE you wear is quite heavy. It’s hot with hoods. It’s very sweaty it reduces your ability to communicate.”

EpiShuttles can be deployed on land, in the air or at sea.

“The EpiShuttle can be one of those success stories from Covid because we have been able to get it into service and in use throughout the country,” Carter-Weston said. “Whereas normally it would take quite a lot of time to go through the procurements and processes.”

There are about 200 EpiShuttles in use around the world but not many in the United States yet. Negative pressure inside the protective bubble prevents contaminated air from escaping – medical workers can even attach a patient to a ventilator while inside the unit.