Yarmouth company plays important role in Iraq's COVID-19 response

·2 min read

No one at Tri-Star Industries in Yarmouth, N.S. — or anywhere else in the world, for that matter — knew anything about COVID-19 when the company received an order in 2018 to build four mobile intensive care units for the ministry of health in Iraq.

But as it turns out, the delivery of the order around the start of 2020 couldn't have come at a better time.

"We knew that this is what it could be used for and it was exactly how they deployed it when they first received it," said Colin Murphy, the company's chief business development officer.

"They sent them out to their airports and used them as COVID screening units right away. Just knowing what those vehicles were as ICUs, we said, 'These are exactly what ministries of health around the world are going to need.'"

When the order was originally placed, the intention was to use the mobile units, which sit atop 45-foot towable trailer chassis, to treat respiratory diseases in remote areas that don't have easy access to emergency departments.

Submitted by Tri-Star Industries
Submitted by Tri-Star Industries

Each trailer is lead-lined and has X-ray capabilities, negative pressure air systems, six beds with partitions and lead-lined curtains. The six stations are each equipped with medical air, oxygen and suction, and there is work space for nurses and doctors and a washroom and shower.

Although the trailers can be plugged into a power source, they also have generators that give the units self-contained power sources. Aside from the chassis, which come from an outside supplier, the rest of the unit is manufactured in Yarmouth.

Tri-Star has long been known for manufacturing ambulances and other customized vehicles, but Murphy said the shifting focus for the units sent to Iraq has created a new option for the company, one it's pursuing in international and domestic markets.

The trailers sent to Iraq might have been originally destined for remote areas, but they would be equally well suited to parking lots next to hospitals in need of additional capacity, said Murphy.

Submitted by Tri-Star Industries
Submitted by Tri-Star Industries

"We saw challenges with it in the beginning," he said of the project. "But we know we have the capability to do it, and we did. And what it has done is expanded our horizon in terms of product scope, too."

Murphy said the development of what's become a new offering for the company means the 60-person workforce has new business avenues while also helping with the pandemic.

"It feels like we're involved in the response, but, also, it helps to have that business, too."