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Negatively Pressurized Conex finds place at Dover AFB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Faith Schaefer
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members from across Team Dover continue to support COVID transport operations by participating in the implementation of the negatively pressurized conex, or NPC, transforming the way patients are safely transported across the globe.

Soon after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, United States Transportation Command required a modern and effective contamination chamber and the Air Force answered the call with the NPC.

"In less than 30 days, the NPC went from an idea on a napkin to a proven concept ... and only 88 days from that idea to the delivery of an operational system," said Lt. Col. Paul Hendrickson, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense materiel leader. “This was made possible by a team comprised of the Air Force CBRN Defense Systems Branch working with the Joint Program Executive Office for CBRN Defense and partnering with teams across the Air Force and Department of Defense."

The NPC can transfer a maximum of up to 28 patients at a time, compared to the two-to-four capacity of its predecessor, the transportation isolation system.

“The goal of the NPC is to help us keep infectious organisms contained, in order to prevent the aircrew and medical professionals on board the aircraft from being exposed,” said Capt. Alexis Todaro, NPC program manager. "The container is negatively pressurized; fans are continuously pulling the air from within the unit through high-efficiency particulate filters to prevent any exposure to the aircraft.”

Due to its strategic geographic location, Dover was selected to host two NPCs for use aboard the C-17 Globemaster III.

Aircrew members from the 3rd Airlift Squadron are in charge of transporting NPCs across the globe. After the NPC’s return to Dover from a mission, members deployed to the 775th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight are responsible for decontaminating the module.

“An aeromedical operation evacuation team is here for the decontamination of the NPC’s,” said Capt. Kemeshia Greene, 775th EAEF Dover detachment officer in charge. “After they are done transporting patients, the NPC is then brought to Dover to be decontaminated. We have a team that is trained to use special personal protective equipment to put on and to use certain disinfectants to sterilize the NPCs.”

Since Dec. 15, 2020, Dover AFB has transported a total of 26 patients utilizing the NPCs. As a part of the global response to COVID-19, the NPCs will remain at Dover AFB, which currently serves as the East Coast hub for deployment and decontamination operations.

“I am truly impressed with Team Dover’s continued commitment to COVID-19 response operations,” said Lt. Gen Ronald Place, Defense Health Agency director, during a tour of the NPC facilities. “Dover’s support of the NPC mission helps ensure the medical readiness of our Total Force.”