CARTERSVILLE, Ga - Phoenix Air, based in Cartersville, has been flying medical missions non-stop for the past month. They're transporting critically ill American citizens who have COVID-19 back to the US.
"We're the only company in the world that can transport highly contagious patients," said Dent Thompson, Sr. Vice President of Phoenix Air.
Earlier this year, when the coronavirus was starting to spread rapidly, Phoenix Air was put on alert by the US State Department. Americans in other parts of the world needed to get home.
"We were immediately tasked by the US State Department to get something like 800 American citizens from Wuhan, China," said Thompson.
Thompson says those citizens did not have COVID-19, but the next group of Americans was coming from a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, in Japan. All had tested positive. Phoenix Air uses biological containment systems, each one is the size of a trailer on a big rig, 44-feet long and 8-feet wide.
"Each one allows us to put 4 highly contagious patients inside and keep them completely isolated for a 12- to 14-hour flight," said Thompson.
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Phoenix Air has plenty of experience transporting patients with highly contagious diseases.
"We've dealt with Ebola, SARS, MERS, Avian flu, Swine flu," said Thompson.
When Phoenix Air first took off in the early 80s, they were transporting automotive parts, they had no idea they'd be performing lifesaving trips.
"It's very rewarding, there's not a day goes by that I'm not thankful that we stumbled into this line of work and that we do have the ability to make a difference in the world," said Thompson.
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