SEOUL -- South Korean fire stations will operate new negative-pressure ambulances installed with an oxygen concentration monitor and an automatic ventilation system to prevent a decrease in oxygen concentration while carrying COVID-19 patients. Ambulance workers can selectively operate a negative-pressure system depending on the type of patients.
Negative pressure plays a vital part in COVID-19 screening and treatment as it prevents cross-contamination inside an enclosed space by creating a constant flow of purified air through special filters. Serious COVID-19 patients have been placed in negative-pressure rooms that stop air from being released into any other part of hospitals.
The National Fire Agency said it would introduce new negative-pressure ambulances that can be used for transporting both COVID-19 patients and ordinary patients in the second half of this year. The new negative-pressure ambulance will be bigger than the existing one to carry more equipment and secure greater space for first aid.
The ambulance currently in operation at fire stations is designed to maintain negative pressure at all times during transport to prevent viruses and germs from spreading out. When operators turn on the engine, the air pressure inside the patient's room automatically falls, leading to a decrease in oxygen concentration and causing dizziness and headaches.
Fire authorities have teamed up with ambulance manufacturers to develop new ambulances installed with an oxygen concentration monitor and an automatic ventilation system. If the oxygen concentration falls below 18 percent, it will automatically ventilate the internal air to maintain the appropriate concentration of oxygen. By installing a button that allows manual operation, ambulance workers can selectively operate a negative-pressure system.
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