By Anna Jauhola
In the early 20th century, Frederick McKinley Jones was busy making life better for the people of Kittson County. He was busy not only fixing machinery, motor vehicles and other items, he was inventing a portable X-ray machine, the ability to project a movie with sound, creating a powerful radio transmitter and so much more.
Not only his genius but his kind nature gained him many friends in the Hallock area. His inventive mind led him to Minneapolis where he directly impacted how perishable items are shipped long distance.
Now, in the early 21st century, Jones would be proud to see how his portable refrigeration unit is set to transport the vaccine against COVID-19.
During World War II, Jones’s portable refrigeration unit helped get medicine, blood and plasma to troops overseas, as well as food and other items, according to “I’ve Got An Idea!” a biography of Jones written by Hallock authors Gloria Swanson and Margaret Ott.
In October, the company Thermo King – a subsidiary of Trane Technologies – began working with Envirotainer to adapt an already-proven product to be able to ship the vaccine, according to Thermo King’s website. Thermo King was originally founded as U.S. Thermo Control Company by Joseph Numero, the man who hired Jones first to develop technology for the movie theater industry.
The containers that will hold the vaccines were originally built to ship frozen seafood products, which required extremely low temperatures.
They are equipped with Thermo King technology originally invented by Jones and will sustain temperatures to 70 degrees below zero. Pfizer’s vaccine, which was approved for use in the U.S. last week, must be kept at this temperature while in storage. Once out of that temperature, the vaccine must be used within five days.
In the coming weeks, it will be another proud day for Hallock and Jones. When the healthcare facilities in Kittson County receive their first and succeeding shipments of vaccines, they’ll be delivered by an invention made possible by a creative genius who fondly called Hallock his hometown.
By Anna Jauhola