SA company building self-contained medical units that could transport future coronavirus patients

SAN ANTONIO – Knight Aerospace has started building its first medical container that can be placed inside of a cargo aircraft to transport patients with highly infectious diseases.

“Our unit is completely independent. The only thing it takes from the aircraft is power. That’s why we’re able to roll this on and hook it up in about 45 minutes, and the aircraft is ready to go,” said Bianca Rhodes, president and CEO of Knight Aerospace.

The units can fit up to 12 patients and medical personnel.

“We not only have space for the patients to go by litter or gurney, but we can put in seats that would allow the patients to be upright if that’s appropriate for their condition, and as well as for the medical crew members to be able to sit in,” said Craig Manifold, chief medical officer of the company.

Manifold believes the containers can work to transport patients, including those with COVID-19.

“The coronavirus is one of those things where it’s a communicable disease. The advantage of having a module such as this is we can put it inside the aircraft and we can completely separate the exchange of air and contact between the medical crew and the patients and the air crew and the air frame,” Manifold said.

The units can be built in four to six months.

Rhodes said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department have expressed interest in the containers.

“They have both brought teams into San Antonio as recently as November. We had the assistant secretary of HHS (Health and Human Services) here in San Antonio talking to us about this solution because they understand they need a long-term sustainable solution that is going to be airworthy. And we’re the only company that can deliver that,” Rhodes said.

The units are decontaminated after the patients are delivered to their specified locations, allowing them to be reused for another mission.

The cost of the container depends on the size and the type of equipment that is installed inside.

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