HOW THE HUMBLE BATTERY CHARGER CAN PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN PROTECTING PATIENTS IN INFECTIOUS AND HAZARDOUS ENVIRONMENTS
Ciprian Rotaru, Editor-in-Chief at Easy Engineering Magazine, looks at how a medically certified charging device has made it possible to transport infectious or wounded soldiers from field hospitals, isolate passengers with highly infectious diseases on cruise ships or protect people who have come into contact with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials.
When the EpiShuttle isolation unit was developed by Norwegian company EpiGuard to meet the rigorous challenge of providing a safe, reliable and comfortable means of moving highly contagious patients – including transporting them by air – the need to have a fully-charged battery was seen as a given. However, making that possible in such difficult circumstances and demanding environments is less straightforward than simply having a battery charger on hand.
Whether operating around military conflicts and international aid work, or on cruise ships and air ambulances, a consistent and reliable energy source is vital. If the battery on devices such as the EpiShuttle was not operating at maximum efficiency, the ability to protect patients would be compromised.
CE-marked as a Class 1 medical device, the EpiShuttle is compliant with the stringent EN 1789 standard, meaning it can operate safely in ambulances and all types of aircraft. The device can be used for intra-hospital and inter-hospital transport without the need for disinfecting corridors and transport vehicles. As well as traditional ground-based ambulance transport of contagious patients, the EpiShuttle can be used in police and fire departments where the person inside has to be protected from a hazardous environment. In air ambulance transport – including helicopters – the unit is able to protect the crew as well as the pilots from cross-infection.
In military applications, the EpiShuttle can be used to carry infectious or wounded soldiers from field hospitals to care facilities or take soldiers or civilians through contaminated or hazardous areas. In situations involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials, the EpiShuttle is ideal for transporting burn victims or anyone who needs to be protected from such hazardous environments. It is particularly well-suited for highly infectious and contaminated patients who have been exposed to CBRN agents. Finally, on cruise ships, the EpiShuttle is perfect for isolating passengers with highly infectious diseases without any risk of cross-contamination. For maximum convenience and safety, there is also no need to disinfect ship hallways, lifts and any other communal areas.
One novel feature of the EpiShuttle is that it has an air ventilation system capable of being configured in either negative pressure mode (to protect the surroundings from an infectious patient) or in positive pressure mode (to protect the patient from the surroundings). The system generates over 15 air exchanges an hour to achieve maximum levels of patient comfort and safety.
Another key feature of the EpiShuttle is that it was designed to allow monitoring and advanced treatment to be performed during transport, including emergency procedures like intubation or intravenous (IV) and oxygen line insertion. Because the device provides a completely sealed transparent barrier between the patient and the healthcare professional, preventing any cross-infection, there is no need to disinfect transport vehicles after use, saving considerable amounts of time and money. Thanks to validated disinfection procedures, the EpiShuttle can be disinfected and back in service for another patient in under two hours.
Rechargeable Li-ion battery
Powering each EpiShuttle is a rechargeable 14.4V lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery and EpiGuard handed the responsibility for keeping this charged to fellow Norwegian company Mascot, a pioneer in electronics. Founded in 1938, Mascot was the first Norwegian manufacturer to introduce car radios in Norway in 1953. During the 1950s, Mascot radios became widely popular due to their superior reception, not just in Norway but also in mountainous regions in Europe and the Near and Middle East. In the early 1960s, Mascot set up a manufacturing joint venture in Turkey to meet growing communications demand in the region.
Mascot’s solution for delivering sustainable and reliable power to the EpiShuttle was the 2240 LI charger, which is medically certified to EN 60601-1 ed 3.1 and EMC: EN 60601-1-2 ed 4. Used successfully in a broad spectrum of other medical applications, the charger has proved ideal for operating without compromise at high altitudes. To this end, all Mascot 2240 products are tested and checked for their ability to operate at atmospheric pressures between 70kPA and 106kPA, meaning they comply with the ISO 7000-2621 atmospheric pressure limitation standard.
When designing the EpiShuttle, EpiGuard recognised that it is always essential to eliminate any risk of patients infecting others they may come into contact with – whether medical staff, transport staff or members of the public – as well as being affected themselves by contracting other conditions. At the same time, dependable and consistent power is vital in the kind of medical applications that the EpiShuttle is required to operate in and the Mascot 2240 was found to combine reliability with speed and performance across all environments.
Although this is not the stuff that headlines are made of, it is clear from EpiGuard’s experience that a humble battery charger can make all the difference between a patient remaining stabilised or getting worse in some of the most demanding environments imaginable. The charger can also play a vital role in protecting anyone who comes into contact with the patient as well as the individual themselves. And it can create that all-important comfort factor that enables healthcare professionals to concentrate on their patients out in the field without having to worry about whether they have a reliable and dependable power source.
Based in Fredrikstad, Norway, Mascot has developed a reputation worldwide as a leading manufacturer of quality power supplies and intelligent battery chargers for lead acid, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and Li-ion batteries, with products made in Tallinn, Estonia or Ningbo, China. Mascot also offers DC/DC converters and DC/AC inverters, with many products featuring universal input for worldwide mains power sources as well as certifications such as UL and Medical (EN 60601) approvals.
In addition to offering a standard range of products, the company has vast experience in developing and manufacturing power supplies that are designed to customers’ own specifications. These customisations can range from small modifications of existing standard products to entirely new models, encapsulated or open frame. More information about Mascot products can be found at www.mascot.no.
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