Ramstein medics conduct NPC training


Air Mobility Command medical instructors provide training for medics from the KMC inside a Negatively Pressured Conex at Ramstein Air Base on July 14. The training was conducted to ensure that KMC medics possess the skill and knowledge to effectively support missions within the European and African Command.

The Negatively Pressurized CONEX, or NPC, is the newest system available to transport large numbers of individuals with COVID-19. Building on the concepts of its predecessor, the Transportation Isolation System, the NPC  has increased patient capacity and is more operationally versatile.

On July 14, members of Air Mobility Command came to Ramstein Air Base to teach local medical instructors proper procedures for a number of situations that could happen in a Negatively Pressured Conex.

Medics simulate reviving a mannequin during a training scenario inside a Negatively Pressured Conex at Ramstein Air Base, July 14. NPC instructors from Air Mobility Command trained medics from the Kaiserslautern Military Community to ensure they’re capable to support European and African Command.

“We have a large group of individuals coming together from the 86th Medical Group and the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron to form a COVID-19 team,” said Capt. JD Pilger, 86th AES interim training flight commander. “We’re training the trainers to implement the USAFE [United States Air Forces in Europe] COVID-19 movement for EUCOM [European Command] and AFRICOM [African Command].”


NPCs are containment units designed to allow in-flight medical care for patients with diseases like COVID-19 while minimizing the possible spread of infectious diseases to medical personnel and aircrew on board.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Joshua Williams, 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron clinical nurse specialist, dons an emergency passenger oxygen system during a training scenario at Ramstein Air Base, July 14. Ramstein medics went through roughly 15 training scenarios that could happen in a Negatively Pressured Conex.

While there hasn’t been a large demand for NPC teams within Europe, military medics know it’s best to be prepared.

“There’s not a huge demand within EUCOM currently, but we’re training, getting ready so if there is a demand we’re ready to go,” Pilger said. “There’s not going to be any delay, we’ll be able to start moving patients day one.”

Building up and preparing these teams is important because COVID-19 isn’t the only global pandemic that they may be called on to combat.

A medic opens the door to the Negatively Pressured Conex at Ramstein Air Base, July 14. A NPC is a containment unit designed allow in-flight medical care for patients with diseases like COVID-19 while minimizing the possible spread of infectious diseases to medical personnel and aircrew on board.

“Going forward we can use these units for potential outbreaks like Ebola and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, which have a higher mortality rate,” Pilger said. “It’s important to maintain our NPC protocols for anything else in the future.”

During this training, the AMC instructors ran the local medics through a gauntlet of real life scenarios.

“We covered around 15 different scenarios today,” Pilger said. “Anywhere from a patient emergency, where they have a cardiac arrest and we’re having to perform lifesaving maneuvers to bring them back or a personal protective equipment breach and we have to decontaminate ourselves so we don’t get infected.”

Medics from the Kaiserslautern Military Community gather before starting a series of training scenarios at Ramstein Air Base, July 14. The teams were training with a Negatively Pressured Conex. These containment units allow in-flight medical care for patients with infectious diseases like COVID-19 while minimizing the possible spread to nearby medical personnel or aircrew.

Fighting COVID-19 requires all hands on deck, which means it’s important for medics from different units to be able to work as a single team.

“We had a great job with everyone coming together,” Pilger said. “We’ve come together communicating and coordinating, we’ll be ready to start taking live patients if the demand is there.”