Ministry of Defence
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New blood storage containers to help military medics save lives

New blood storage containers to help military medics save lives

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 12 August 2009

Finishing touches are being made to a high-tech temperature-controlled medical storage facility which will help military medics save lives on the frontline.

The Bulk Medical Storage Facility (BMSF) can hold the equivalent volume of blood products to a small hospital bloodbank. It is designed to work in extremes of temperature and the UK military will be the only forces in the world to have this capability.

It will provide secure storage for medical material at deep frozen, refrigerated and ambient temperatures simultaneously, even when external temperatures rise as high as +58C or drop as low as -26C.

Each BMSF is based on 20ft ISO containers with on-board power generation and a capability to “hook up” to expeditionary infrastructure power supplies. The systems will then be deployed to military medical staff at forward field hospitals.

Major Stephen Smedley, the MoD Responsible Person for Blood, said:

"This will significantly enhance our transfusion capability in the field. This will allow us to ship and store the equivalent volume of a small hospital bloodbank safely and securely.

“The Bulk Medical Storage Facility and the man-portable refrigerators are an essential requirement to allow us to continue to supply blood in support of UK Forces worldwide and these refrigerators will significantly enhance this capability on the frontline.”

This unit is the first to be produced under a £2.9M, four-year contract awarded to General Dynamics UK in April. The BSMF will be tested by the MOD next week and then a further 13 will be produced, which could save the lives of troops injured on the frontline as early as next summer.

Under the contract, General Dynamics UK have already supplied 88 man-portable refrigerator systems that can be taken closer to front line operations and will keep blood products at +4C. The blood can be safely stored at the correct temperature anywhere where there is a power supply and for up to eight hours without power.

Vice-President of General Dynamics UK, Danny Milligan, said:

"We are delighted to be able to deliver the first of the temperature-controlled units to the MOD. They are totally self-reliant or can be used as part of an overall large deployed camp infrastructure.

“We believe that these will make a real difference to military medics on the frontline and we are proud to support our troops on operations by developing unique medical storage facilities to be used in Afghanistan.”

Notes to Editors:

1.The Cold Chain Capability programme is managed by Defence Equipment and Support's Medical & General Supplies Team. MoD Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) buys and supports all the equipment used by the Armed Forces and in support of current operations in Afghanistan.

2.The contract is for an initial four years and is to the value of £2.9M, with a further £1M in-service costs. The manufacture of the BMSF will secure eight posts at the General Dynamics UK factory in Peterborough until May 2010.

3.The BMSF affords the MoD the capability of moving significant quantities of blood (Red cell Concentrate), and blood components (Specifically Fresh Frozen Plasma and Cryoprecipitate) in one shipment in a controlled environment that ensures the blood and blood components are suitable for immediate use. This is a significant enhancement to the UK's expeditionary capability.

4.The man-portable refrigerators were supplied to the MoD by General Dynamics UK. They are manufactured in Luxembourg by Dometic. These will allow the transport of up to 30 units of blood. The blood can be safely stored at the correct temperature anywhere there is a power supply and for up to eight hours without power.

5.For more information contact Eleanor Treharne-Jones, Regional Defence Press Officer (East) on 01480 425346 or 07876 477803, or Sonia Marshall at the MOD Press Office on 0207 218 2957.

Contacts:

Ministry of Defence
NDS.MOD@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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