The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has designed a casualty evacuation bag to evacuate persons infected with coronavirus. The bag is water and air-proof and designed to deal with biological agents.

“The design of the bag was finalised this week and DRDO will be procuring an initial lot of 500 such bags,” a senior DRDO official said.

“We are looking at the private industry, which has expertise in this field, to manufacture them,” he added.

DRDO’s Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL), which researches aero-medical engineering and life support equipment and Nuclear Chemical and Biological (NBC), protection systems, has developed this bag.

According to DRDO sources, the bag, in the shape of a rigid cylinder, is made of non-woven, water-repellent fabric with air and waterproof zippers as well as a ventilator. It is coated with a film to cater to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environment with requisite protection against blood and viral penetration.

The size and shape of the COVID casualty evacuation bag is akin to a fabric chamber developed by DEBEL in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil conflict to manage patients affected with High Altitude Pulmonary Odema (HAPO). The chamber is airtight and simulates air pressure that is prevalent at lower altitudes while evacuating patients from high altitude.

DRDO has been tracking the spread of COVID-19 since the first reports of its outbreak in China’s Wuhan Province. It took a call in the first week of March to enhance efforts for creating counter-measures and creating a mass supply solution of critical medical requirements if COVID-19 becomes a crisis.

A protective body suit developed earlier by DRDO’s Institute for Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences for medical and paramedical staff to manage and evacuate causalities in the event of CBRN emergencies, has now been adapted for use by medical staff and health workers engaged in combating COVID-19. Over 10,000 such suits are being produced every day by private manufacturers and production is expected to be ramped up further with more private players joining hands.

Critical care ventilators, advanced, 5-layer N-99 face masks and hand sanitizers are other products developed by DRDO laboratories are now being mass-produced by the industry to mitigate the COVID-19 threat.