Magpas Air Ambulance faced significant challenges during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning, the charity’s goal was to continue to provide the 24/7 service and save lives, while ensuring the safety of their medical team and patients was upheld from the increasing risk of infection. They introduced more PPE and made changes to the way they stored and used equipment, but still knew they needed to find a way to effectively decontaminate the kit bags and their contents following each mission.

After extensive research, technology created by a local Kings Lynn based company called Inivos was identified to be the most effective system for the charity’s needs. Comprised of a hydrogen peroxide decontamination robot, used in a purpose-built chamber known as ProXpod, the robot fills the chamber with hydrogen peroxide vapour to break down pathogenic micro-organisms – including SARS-CoV-2.

The ProXpod technology was developed during the pandemic to address PPE shortages by decontaminating healthcare worker masks, gowns, scrubs and uniforms for safe reuse and is already in use at hundreds of hospitals across UK.

This piece of equipment has proved a huge operational benefit for Magpas Air Ambulance. Beforehand the Magpas medical team had to manually clean every piece of equipment, but their clinicians now have the confidence that the equipment has gone through a decontamination system that ensures the safety of patients and staff. Not only does the charity now have a regular decontamination programme, they also have the ability to decontaminate any equipment between the scheduled times if they’ve treated a suspected or known COVID-19 positive patient.

Dr Simon Lewis, Magpas Medical Director explains: “Magpas Air Ambulance has always been innovative and this situation is no different. Through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation magnificently rose to the challenge. Our clinical staff provided more hours of work than ever before. We were able to support the NHS by providing long distance emergency patient transfers of some of the sickest Covid-19 patients between intensive care units around the region. Our clinicians also provided additional online and telephone support for the ambulance service, all this whilst ensuring our clinicians and patients remained safe as they continued to respond to emergency calls 24/7.”

With the highest levels of PPE, new cleaning regimes and purchasing the ProXpod decontamination unit only before seen in hospital care, the charity has truly put safety first for all while continuing to deliver a first-class service for the sickest patients in the region.

Raising the money to invest in new technology to help beat the virus has been a challenge. Magpas Air Ambulance is a charity which relies on voluntary donations to raise the £5.5 million needed to fund their 24/7 service every year. Specialised equipment like the decontamination system was an additional strain on their budget at a time when much of their fundraising activity stopped as the result of the pandemic. Despite this, the organisation reached out to several key donors who, recognising the impact the system would have on the service, fully funded the technology.

Magpas Air Ambulance would like to say a huge thank you to the generosity of Godolphin, Lions Club International and Dr Nigel Brown OBE, without whom this advance in care for the region would not have been possible.

The Magpas Air Ambulance team in PPE at an incident