Saturday, November 8, 2014

contamination risk?

Can the use of pneumatic tubes to transport lab samples of a deadly virus lead to wider contamination? This is the fear of some hospital staff where an Ebola patient has been treated recently in Maryland, U.S.

The hospital, in an attempt to calm such fears, issued a statement declaring that while the lab samples of the patient did travel by pneumatic tube during his first visit to the hospital, at no time did they leak or spill from their bag or carrier into the tube system. During the patient's second visit, the pneumatic tube system was not used. Specimens were instead "triple bagged", placed in a container, placed in another container and then hand-carried to the lab via a "buddy system". Contrast this with health facilities in Guinea, where nurses don't even have an adequate supply of gloves, as reported in this blogpost, part of Somatosphere's intelligent coverage of the disastrous epidemic, Ebola Fieldnotes.

Image of biohazard bags for pneumatic tube system, my own.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

from the point of view of a capsule

Some of you may have already seen a video doing the rounds this week through blogs, where a Go Pro video camera takes a ride through a Norwegian parliament pneumatic tube system:

It's not the first tube cam video, nor will I imagine it being the last. This video differs a little from the previously somewhat clunky smartphone videos which have been posted, giving some sense of not only the dizzying trip through the tubes, kind of like metallic endoscopy footage, but also the stops and starts, the turn arounds and switches. The fact that this is a tube system in parliament is interesting. More about that in upcoming posts. The video offers a glimpse of what we don't normally see: the inside of infrastructure, and the way the movement of objects is organised. We feel the pressure and effects of vacuum. And perhaps even a little about what life is like as a pneumatic tube capsule, whizzing from one station to the next.

For those readers interested in the possibilities of, and social consequences of Go Pro cameras, there is a great New Yorker article on the topic.