IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 88

International SOS | From East to West
Portable Medical
Isolation Unit.
Fact No. 14
Our employees
speak 99 languages
and dialects.
The PMIU had three pairs of gloved ports in the
design, and a small transfer pouch so that medical
staff could deliver medication to the patient during
transport, plus four equipment ports through which
monitoring cables and intravenous lines could be
The PMIU had to be small enough to fit into any
ground ambulance or other vehicle able to take a
stretcher, including all the aircraft used by
International SOS. Its first outing was to transport
a Taiwanese SARS patient from a remote island in
the South China Sea, by air to a hospital in Taipei.
The PMIU’s longest flight was conducted for New
Zealand’s Ministry of Health. A Korean visitor to New
Zealand was diagnosed with Multiple Drug Resistant
Tuberculosis and was incarcerated in an Isolation
unit in Auckland City Hospital. As no airline would
accept such a patient, the PMIU was the only option
available to take the patient back home to Korea.
The flight in a Gulfstream IV air ambulance covered
11,000 kms and took over 11 hours.
As well as dealing with cases on the ground, using
our contacts and information sources around the
world, we provided members with regular and
reliable updates. A SARS Online Guide was put
on our website to provide easy access to critical
information about each SARS-affected country,
including details on travel, schools, consulates
and local medical facilities.
Based on this experience we adopted the same
approach for the avian flu outbreak in December
2003. Our clients wanted one single repository of
reliable, real-time information that they could access
24/7. We provided this and looked at how we could
further improve our client offering to respond to
such events.
Arnaud Vaissié: “To me the Portable Medical
Isolation Unit is a reflection of why International
SOS is in existence: To make the impossible
become possible.”
The invention of the PMIU was a groundbreaking
step, typical of the ‘never say no’ attitude of the
company, the invaluable expertise of its staff and its
thirst for innovation. Over time the PMIU has gone
through various revisions and improvements but it
remains basically the same as Roger’s blueprint.
A commercial derivative of the PMIU is still being
used today in the transportation of patients with
Ebola from West Africa.
Right: Travellers waiting outside Guanzhou
train station during SARS epidemic,
February 2003, Guangdong Province, China.
Credit: Corbis


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