In a first for India, a 58-year-old Covid patient on ventilator support was safely flown by an air ambulance from Kolkata to Chennai on Sunday after he was placed in a medically self-sustaining pod.
Flying a Covid positive patient creates safety challenges for the pilots and the accompanying medical team because of the difference in air pressure that may allow the virus to escape - something that was successfully tackled by the use of German technology which costs Rs 20 lakh, its promoters said.
According to the promoters, the technology creates a negative pressure inside the pod and filters the air with pumps, which do not allow the virus to escape.
"The pod is absolutely safe for the pilots and medical team accompanying the patient. Our doctors stabilised him a day earlier and he was not moved out of the pod till he reached the hospital in Chennai. A cardiac anesthesist and two para medics, including our chief para medic, accompanied the patient in the ICU-fitted air ambulance," Dr Rahul Singh Sardar, Co-founder of ICATT Kyathi Air Ambulance Service told NDTV.
The high-risk flight could be completed after clearances from the health secretaries of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, and green corridors were created in both cities for speedy movement of the patient.
Confirming this to NDTV, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Radhakrishnan said, "The patient was flown to be admitted at MGM Healthcare, in Chennai."
Hospital authorities from MGM Healthcare said the patient has suffered major damage to his lungs.
Experts said that this technology used to transport the patient could be used to save the lives of many more people.
"Critical patients do not survive journeys of any kind. This (air pod) can save a lot of lives that would otherwise be lost because of logistical challenges in accessing specialist centres available in a few cities," Dr Shalini Nalwad, the co-founder of ICATT Kyathi Air Ambulance Service said.
The patient had first tested positive almost a month ago, and the test done a day before his flight to Chennai also came out positive.