In light of requirements to provide intensive care medical staff, doctors and first responders with the absolute best PPE respiratory equipment available, Cam Lock, an Aldershot based company that designs and produces a highly specialist range of life-saving respiratory equipment for use in hazardous conditions, is more than ready to immediately respond. However, in moving through what can only be described as an extremely bureaucratic acquisition process, it is extremely disappointing that the company has been struggling to make itself heard within the Department of Health.
Given that Cam Lock life support equipment has an enviable reputation of being considered the very best available in the world, I am bound to be concerned why a UK based company such as this, one that exports an extensive range of highly specialist military, industrial and first responder life support equipment all over the world; one that with PRO-Mask is absolutely ready to supply a respiratory protection equipment that is clearly very much better than equipment currently being used in hospitals and by first responders, is struggling to make its voice heard within the unwieldy Department of Health process.
The Cam-Lock PRO-Mask is an already in-production respiratory mask that can provide specialist medical staff and first responders working in very difficult COVID-19 conditions with what can only be described as a significantly improved level of respiratory and face protection than existing equipment offers.
Cam-Lock life support equipment, be this in the form of military aircrew oxygen masks and breathing systems, CBRN respirators, industrial working respirators, emergency escape sets and fire-fighter breathing apparatus, exceeds the highest global regulatory standards set for very specialist forms of life support equipment. Not only does Cam Lock lead the industry internationally in respect of providing the absolute best and highest level of in-house designed and produced respiratory protection and life support equipment available but also the equipment on which global industry standards are set.
For specialist hospital medical staff and first responders Cam Lock could, I understand, immediately provide to the NHS a one-size fits all, light weight respirator that is fully CE and BSI qualified. Importantly, the PRO-Mask also provides full all-round vision for the user and, due to its large visor, full face visibility of the user by other medical staff working around them.
The Cam Lock PRO-mask is also reusable by more than one person after wash, sanitising and change of filter (the latter to DIN 40 standard). Very light in weight, quick to don and extremely comfortable to use (the writer speaks from experience) while initially more expensive than the standard protection equipment currently supplied to NHS intensive care staff, PRO-Mask offers significantly more personal protection to first responders and intensive care medical staff than the existing range of disposable equipment does. Indeed, rather than being disposable, PRO-Mask is reusable and thus available where and when required.
Existing equipment supplied by the NHS to first responders and specialist intensive care medical staff leaves the user not only inadequately protected in my view but also having to wait for physical delivery until medical personnel can continue their work.
I understand that Cam Lock already has 200 PRO-Masks available for dispatch this very week and that the company could then, if asked, produce 500 masks per week thereafter. Thus I am struggling to understand why a company such as Cam Lock, one that has such an enviable reputation internationally and that is ready to work around the clock to supply PRO-masks to an organisation such as the NHS, has found itself stuck in a bureaucratic rabbit hole at such a crucial time such as this.
Military Rises to Challenge
What an absolute brilliant job of work the UK military is doing is support of the COVID-19 crisis! Be it creating field hospitals in existing infrastructure, delivering much needed PPE and other specialist resources to the NHS, providing additional doctors and trained medical staff to assist, flying COVIS-19 patients to hospital from outlying areas, standing ready to support additional needs and in supporting our dependent territories, I take my hat off to them all for what they do. Let no one forget that we are so brilliantly served by our military in times of crisis such as this,
Having announced that it was putting the entire reserves force on notice of possible requirement as part of the COVID-19 support force the decision last week to call-up the first 3,000 reservists that have specialist skills is welcome. Processing has already begun and employers with reservists on their payroll are, I understand, already being asked to identify individuals that they are willing to release for up to six-months military service. In the extremely unlikely event that insufficient numbers of reservists are made available by employees the government could resort to compulsory mobilisation. Companies that release their reservist staff will receive financial compensation from the government.
Part of the COVID-19 support force and working alongside regular military personnel, the reservists are likely to engaged on anything from driving oxygen tankers, assisting in the construction of emergency field hospitals planned for some major UK cities, providing engineering expertise, providing logistical assistance, acting as liaison officers with the civilian authorities, supporting the police plus other crucial work behind the scenes at hospitals.
Industry Rises to Challenge
Meanwhile, the number of UK engineering, aerospace and automotive companies now assisting the government building parts for or actually manufacturing various types of ventilators for the NHS is amazing. More than sixty companies are so far believed to have risen to the challenge laid down a week ago by the Prime Minster for hospital ventilators. These include Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Meggitt, Thales, Babcock International, Marshalls, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Vauxhall Cars, Mercedes Benz F! Team, JCB and Dyson together with specialist medical equipment companies such as Smiths Group and Penlon. Last week the government said that it had access to around 8,000 ventilators but that number is already believed to have increased. Official estimates suggest that at least 30,000 ventilators will be required in order to treat all seriously ill Coronavirus patients at the peak. Given the manner in which so many companies have risen to the challenge, provided bureaucracy – meaning regulatory delays in testing – I feel confident that by the end of this month the UK will have the number that it needs.
Airbus Rises to an Even More Specialist Challenge
It is not often that I repeat a press release but in case you missed it just look at what Airbus has been doing to support the four countries in which its major production facilities are located:
– Airbus continues to purchase and supply millions of face masks from China, the large majority of which will be donated to governments of the Airbus home countries, namely France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
An Airbus flight test crew has just completed its latest mission with an A350-1000 test aircraft. This is the third of such missions between Europe and China. The aircraft returned to France with a cargo of 4 million face masks on Sunday 5 April.
The A350-1000 left Toulouse, France, on Friday 3 April, reaching the Airbus site in Tianjin, China on 4 April and returning to Hamburg the same day.
Since mid-March, the previous two missions were performed by and A330-800, and A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). Airbus also deployed an A400M and its Beluga fleet to transport shipments of masks between its European sites, in France, Germany, the UK and Spain.
Airbus will continue to support the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic wherever possible. “I would like to pay tribute to all the Airbus teams, globally, supporting the fight against COVID-19. They’re living our values in assisting those who are saving lives every day”, said Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO.
Airbus is focused on the health and safety of its employees and supporting its customers and the industry eco-system with business continuity. At the same time Airbus is contributing to many vital public and private services and working with partners who rely on aircraft, helicopters, space and security solutions to carry out life-saving missions in support of the global pandemic.
Airbus is deploying its employees, their expertise and know-how and leveraging technology in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, for example in designing and manufacturing ventilators and 3D printed visors which are critical resources for hospitals.
The Company is partnering with other organisations in unprecedented ways to achieve this goal as fast as possible.
You really couldn’t ask for more than that!
CHW (London – 6th April 2020)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785