The U.S. FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber (CAMIC) to be used by healthcare providers within the U.S. Army and Military Health System as an extra layer of barrier protection, in addition to personal protective equipment, to prevent exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates during transport of patients, at the time of definitive airway management, or when performing medical procedures on such patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CAMIC system is a barrier device constructed by draping a large clear plastic bag over a box-like frame that is placed over the head, neck, and shoulders of the patient to isolate (i.e., capture and remove) airborne particulates. Among the inventors of the device are Maj. Steven Hong, Cpt. Timothy Blood, and Cpt. Jonathan Perkins at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; Maj. Douglas Ruhl, at Madigan Army Medical Center; Nathan Fisher at the Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center; Maj. Charles Riley at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; and 2nd Lt. Joseph Krivda at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

“Clinicians at both hospitals spent many sleepless nights and weekends toying with designs and testing models,” Ruhl says. “The device can also contain infective particles during other airway treatments, like high-flow oxygen, a nebulizer, or a CPAP, and hopefully decrease the need for ventilators.”

The device was modeled and tested at Walter Reed and Madigan with computer modeling at TATRC. To measure the effectiveness of the invention, smoke was used as a proxy for airborne viral particles and a particle counter was used to measure distribution within and around the prototype. In addition to the emergency FDA authorization, the Army has filed two provisional patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “It was impressive to see several DOD departments understand the importance of this concept and make it a priority to help expedite reviews and approvals,” Ruhl says.