Scarce negative pressure ambulance

“I have been racing against death for my whole life.” This sentence is the signature of a Wuhan ambulance driver.

In this quiet city for more than a month, on an open road, an ambulance is one of the few vehicles that can be seen. The whistle of a patient is the most heartfelt sound in the city.

On January 23, the epidemic spread, Wuhan was closed, and traffic control in the city was followed by a new type of coronavirus. The transfer and treatment of suspected and confirmed cases became increasingly difficult. Especially after February, Vulcan Mountain and Lei Shenshan Hospital have successively delivered patients for treatment, and a number of square-level hospitals have been set up. Patients with mild to severe and critically ill patients have begun to be classified, divided into hospitals for observation and treatment, and ambulances responsible for transferring patients are available 24 hours a day. In operation, the “negative pressure ambulance” has quickly become one of the most important and most inadequate supplies for epidemic prevention.

As of the end of February, the country has supported more than 500 negative pressure ambulances in Hubei. The first-line capacity is still tight and the vehicle demand gap is large. However, due to the limited application scenarios and high procurement costs, the annual production and sales of negative pressure ambulances in China are only a hundred. The remaining vehicles have limited stocks, and even if the producers catch up on the Spring Festival night, the supply will be difficult to keep up with quickly.

Mobile N95 mask
In daily medical rescue, ambulances are responsible for patient transfer, and they are the “lifeline” waiting to treat patients.

Under normal circumstances, ambulances will match different models and configurations to suit patients in different situations, such as general transport ambulances equipped with basic first aid equipment and medicines, and ambulances with professional first aid equipment such as infusion, defibrillator, ventilator, Blood delivery ambulance that can carry special blood equipment, mother-to-child ambulance for newborns …

In this new crown pneumonia epidemic, the patient who played an important role in the transportation process was a negative pressure ambulance, which was used to transport special infectious diseases.

The so-called negative pressure ambulance is an ambulance equipped with a negative pressure cabin. It relies on an exhaust fan to exhaust the outside air, and the cabin is fully sealed to make the air pressure inside the car lower than the outside. When the air is free to circulate, it can only flow from the outside of the car. Inside the vehicle, flow from the cleaning area (medical staff area) to the infected area (patient area).

The negative pressure ambulance, the patient’s isolation compartment, and the air inside the vehicle need to be cleaned, filtered, and disinfected by ultraviolet rays. This minimizes the possibility of external expansion and pollution of the patient’s microorganisms, and reduces medical services. The chance of cross-infection. Therefore, some people call the negative pressure ambulance “a large moving N95 mask.”

In China, the first large-scale debut of negative pressure ambulances was during the SARS epidemic in 2003. However, as a branch of ambulances, it has not been conspicuous. Some data show that before SARS appeared, the annual output of Chinese ambulances was 500. After 2011, the annual output of ambulances has remained at about 10,000, which has increased 20 times in more than 10 years. Among them, the annual production and sales of negative pressure ambulances Only about a hundred vehicles, accounting for only 1%.

Because it is limited to the special scene of infectious diseases, daily use is infrequent, and the price of negative pressure ambulances is also higher than ordinary ambulances. It is understood that a domestically produced negative pressure ambulance is generally between 200,000 and 600,000 yuan. Different manufacturers, different basic models and different configurations have large price differences. Compared with the corresponding ordinary ambulance models, the cost must be increased by about 5 10,000-100,000 yuan. Therefore, in the absence of special demand, negative pressure ambulances are usually only used as reserve vehicles, and manufacturers basically set production according to sales.

The epidemic broke out suddenly. With the increase in the number of patients diagnosed, the number of transfer admissions increased, and the gap continued to increase.

In the fight against epidemics, although masks and protective clothing are also in short supply, the production capacity is quite abundant. For example, the daily output of medical masks is about 800,000, and the daily output of medical protective clothing is 330,000 sets, which can ensure a continuous supply. The supply of negative-pressure ambulances came as a surprise.

Taking Brilliance Renault as an example, the annual output of ordinary ambulances is usually hundreds, and negative pressure cars are even rarer. Even as the nation’s largest ambulance manufacturer, Jiangling Motors produces only 50-90 negative pressure ambulances a year. According to media reports, as of February 15, Jiangling Motors has received a total of 2,600 negative pressure ambulance orders. According to the previous saturated production plan, it will take at least 30 years.

100,000 rush orders
On January 20, Academician Zhong Nanshan declared publicly that the new type of coronavirus would be transmitted from person to person, the situation of epidemic prevention and control was suddenly tight, and a battle for equipment was quietly started.

On the second day, the Automotive Division of the Equipment Industry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology formally issued a notice requesting the 12 major negative pressure ambulance manufacturers in the country to immediately organize preparations to support epidemic prevention work in all areas. Brilliance Renault, Jiangling Motors, SAIC Chase, Yutong Bus, etc. Among them.

Three days later, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, Brilliance Renault Jinbei Automobile Company received a specific production task from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, requiring that the first batch of 30 negative pressure ambulances be delivered within 20 days. On February 5th, 15 negative pressure ambulances must be delivered first. To help Hubei and Wuhan areas. Han Feng, Renault Golden Cup’s director of vehicle performance and test certification, was appointed to be the person in charge of this emergency task. He convened a team that afternoon to resume production emergency coordination.

On New Year’s Eve, Han Feng could not afford to have a reunion dinner. While receiving the company’s management instructions to resume production calls, he continuously received calls from Wuhan Epidemic Prevention Command to order ambulances. The office in Shenyang is brightly lit, time is tight, and the task is heavy. It coincides with the Spring Festival holiday. The team began to urgently contact frontline employees to return to work and call the corresponding equipment and component suppliers to prepare for emergency production tasks.

Han Feng told the 21CBR reporter that under normal production processes, due to relatively complex procedures such as car body sealing process treatment, negative pressure system layout, internal medical equipment installation, and electrical wiring, the production of a negative pressure ambulance requires at least 20-30 Today, only a process of sealing and performance verification of the body of a negative pressure ambulance can take at least two to three days to complete. The urgent task received was to start from the first process and complete the production of 15 negative pressure ambulances within 10 days.

Behind every minute is fighting against death.

Other car companies that have received production tasks have started to put into production one by one, and ended the holidays in advance. They returned to work to make negative pressure ambulances and other medical vehicles to provide rescue guarantee for epidemic prevention.

Among them, Jiangling Motors is preparing to resume production from January 23, and the group gathered more than 3,500 employees from 15 upstream and downstream companies to work on the next day to catch up with the first batch of 50 negative pressure ambulances. The company completed the production of 55 negative-pressure ambulances on the official Weibo. The company announced on its official Weibo that after accepting orders in the 30th year of the New Year, the production line resumed on the first day of the new year. Overtime production under load reduces the 30-day processing period to 10 days.

Difficult delivery
Rescue of the epidemic is urgently needed, and all car companies have been operating at full capacity. However, the production capacity is still difficult to overcome.

Some people in the industry told that the production of negative pressure ambulances does not require special qualifications, and ordinary ambulance manufacturers can produce them. However, the modification of negative pressure ambulances has technical requirements and quality control issues, not every modification. The factories are capable of production.