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Three medical airmen exit a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020, following the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize contamination risk to aircrew and medical attendants while allowing in-flight medical care for patients with an infectious disease -- in this case, COVID-19.
Three medical airmen exit a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020, following the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize contamination risk to aircrew and medical attendants while allowing in-flight medical care for patients with an infectious disease -- in this case, COVID-19. ( Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force)
Three medical airmen exit a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020, following the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize contamination risk to aircrew and medical attendants while allowing in-flight medical care for patients with an infectious disease -- in this case, COVID-19.
Three medical airmen exit a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020, following the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize contamination risk to aircrew and medical attendants while allowing in-flight medical care for patients with an infectious disease -- in this case, COVID-19. ( Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force)
Airmen prepare to offload coronavirus patients at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020, during the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize contamination risk to aircrew and medical attendants, while allowing in-flight medical care for patients with an infectious disease.
Airmen prepare to offload coronavirus patients at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020, during the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to minimize contamination risk to aircrew and medical attendants, while allowing in-flight medical care for patients with an infectious disease. (Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force)
A  medical airman awaits transport documentation at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020 following the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. Three patients with coronavirus were evacuated from Afghanistan to Ramstein in the TIS, which was designed in 2014 to transport Ebola patients.
A medical airman awaits transport documentation at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020 following the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System. Three patients with coronavirus were evacuated from Afghanistan to Ramstein in the TIS, which was designed in 2014 to transport Ebola patients. (Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Force airmen escort coronavirus patients to a medical bus at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020. An infectious disease containment unit developed to safely transport Ebola patients during the 2014 West Africa outbreak was used for the first time to transport three U.S. government contractors who have tested positive for the coronavirus, from Afghanistan.
U.S. Air Force airmen escort coronavirus patients to a medical bus at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020. An infectious disease containment unit developed to safely transport Ebola patients during the 2014 West Africa outbreak was used for the first time to transport three U.S. government contractors who have tested positive for the coronavirus, from Afghanistan. (Devin Nothstine/U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Force airmen aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft begin disinfecting and decontaminating the aircraft after the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to evacuate patients with an infectious disease, in this case COVID-19.
U.S. Air Force airmen aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft begin disinfecting and decontaminating the aircraft after the first-ever operational use of the Transport Isolation System at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 10, 2020. The TIS is an infectious disease containment unit designed to evacuate patients with an infectious disease, in this case COVID-19. ()

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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force has used an infectious diseases containment unit developed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak to evacuate three U.S. government contractors who tested positive for the coronavirus from Afghanistan to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The patients were transported nearly 4,000 miles inside the Transport Isolation System, which is designed to minimize risks to air crew, medical caregivers and the aircraft while allowing patients to be treated in-flight, Air Mobility Command said in a statement.

The evacuation, on board a C-17 out of Joint Base Charleston, S.C., marked the first time patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have been transported on a U.S. Air Force aircraft, and was the first operational use of the isolation unit since it was developed, the statement said.

The system is made up of an antechamber module for medical staff and two isolation modules set on retrofitted aircraft pallets. The modules’ air filtration systems trap and hold airborne and nonairborne pathogens.

Patient care occurs in the isolation modules, while the antechamber provides medical workers with a space to decontaminate and remove their protective equipment.

The C-17 had two isolation systems aboard, the statement said.

On arrival at Ramstein, the patients were sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for further treatment, officials said.

The evacuation also marked the first time that a patient movement plan, which provides crew and support personnel a detailed process for transporting patients aboard pressurized military aircraft, was activated.

The plan for patients with the disease caused by the coronavirus had been completed and released hours earlier, the statement said.

“Our unique capabilities paired with our strategic locations across the globe enable us to rapidly help those in need,” Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said in a statement. “Along with our allies and partners we stand united against a shared threat and stand ready to help when called.”

U.S. Transportation Command keeps pre-positioned isolation units at Ramstein, Air Force officials said.

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