Production Products Manufacturing & Sales Co. – St. Louis City (Where are they now?)

We first profiled Production Products Manufacturing & Sales Co, Inc. and its president, Barry Corona, in 2013.

What have Corona and the firm, probably the country’s largest producer of chemical and biological protective shelters and equipment for our military and allies, been doing since then?

Helping whip the Ebola virus.

Barry Corona in front of the Transport Isolation System

Production Products co-founder and president Barry Corona in front of the Transport Isolation System. (Photo/Maria Altman)

And thinking about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which grabbed headlines last decade. And the great flu pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed more people worldwide than did World War I.

About six or seven years ago, when you couldn’t turn on the news without hearing about SARS, Production Products was commissioned by the Department of Defense to come up with a system for transporting infected patients. SARS is potentially far more deadly than Ebola. SARS is airborne, so just breathing the same air an infected person breathes can infect another person, whereas Ebola is spread by touching the blood or body fluids of an infected person.

To contain SARS, Production Products came up with Airborne Biological Containment Systems (ABCs), which are one-person isolation units.

“All that summer, you’d see the doctors flying back to Atlanta, getting off the plane on CNN,” said Corona. “And all the units they flew people back in were ours.”

SARS was then, presumably, contained. The remaining ABCs sat in a warehouse.

Then last year, the Ebola epidemic leaped to the world’s attention. In response, approximately 3,800 U.S. military personnel were deployed to West Africa. And the military wondered how to safely transport military personnel back home if infected.

Transport Isolation System

The Tranport Isolation System (TIS) can accommodate three patients at a time. (Photo/Maria Altman)

Corona and Production Products had the answer: Expand one-person ABCs to multiple-person Transport Isolation System (TIS). The TIS is comprised of a disposable plastic lining within a metal frame that includes an air filtration system. The structure is built on a pallet for ease of movement on and off military aircraft.

Corona said his firm was approached by the Department of Defense last August. The new system was available in November.

“A program like this typically takes two years,” said Corona. “We worked weekends and nights, and the units had to pass flight tests, too. We had to pass flight safety procedures on top of everything else!” He said the first TIS units were ready in just more than three months — “That’s just unheard of,” he said.

Gen. Paul Selva, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, which manages all transportation for the Department of Defense, said in an interview he was also pleased.

“This gives us the ability to move the patient in a completely isolated environment from the rest of the cargo and passengers, and that’s a big deal,” he said.

Read a transcript of the interview. The story was also picked up by USA Today, Bloomberg Business and business outlets nationwide.

“We are making things that save people’s lives,” said Corona. “And that’s a good feeling.” The firm has three plants in Missouri, one in economically depressed Buffalo. Corona said he went to talk to his employees in Buffalo and told them they should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.

As for the 1918-19 pandemic, Corona said, “Today, we are so global, if a deadly outbreak like that (the one following World War I) breaks out in an obscure place, it can spread around the world within a month. The TIS gives the military the ability to take care of the next horrible outbreak.

“It (the TIS) is something you want to have, but hope you never have to use.”

The TIS concept can easily be applied to hospitals, which typically have few isolation units, as well as busses, helicopters and even hospital parking lots. The firm is also developing systems to decontaminate entire aircraft.

See the story and video from KSDK News that illustrates how the TIS units were used to transport two American Ebola patients in 2014.


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