Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers play an important role in the prevention and control of infections. EMS providers are at the front line of medical care and have a high risk of exposure to patients with known or unknown infectious diseases or germs. The emergence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria such as methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), along with growing concerns regarding the spread of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and viruses, are major problems facing all healthcare providers, including EMS providers (Fleming, 2009).
In a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, several Chicago-area ambulances tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that causes serious infections and is resistant to certain types of antibiotics. At least one Staphylococcus aureus sample was found in 69% of the ambulances tested. Of samples detected, 77% showed resistance to at least one commonly used antibiotic, and 12% of samples were identified as one of the ‘superbugs’ known as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). This study found that the meticulous application of existing cleaning techniques in ambulances is necessary to prevent the further spread of these harmful pathogens (disease causing germs) in the prehospital environment (Rago et al., 2012).
Disease causing microorganisms or germs can live on objects for extended periods of time. Contaminated objects can cause disease and spread infection. In order to prevent the spread of infections in the prehospital environment, it is essential that patient care items (i.e. items that come in contact with skin and/or mucous membranes) and environmental surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after each patient.
It’s not just Ambulance Crews that are at risk but also members of the Police, Correctional Staff as well as Emergency Rescue Professionals on deployment both at home and on overseas crisis missions.
A prominent Ambulance Service was looking for a new infection control solution to protect their staff and patients. The organization previously tested a hydrogen peroxide product and technology which they ended up not using. The main reason was that the technology tested was found to be toxic & corrosive and also required well over an hour to be applied, resulting in very long downtime for the ambulances. The products’ toxicity presented a major OH&S issue because the ambulance could not be entered and used until the toxicity levels had decreased to an acceptable level. The product was also found to be making unsubstantiated claims about approvals from regulatory bodies and was only listed, not registered with the government authorities. This experience prompted the ambulance service to look for another technology that met all of their requirements. The new solution had to be non-toxic, non-corrosive, alcohol-free, pH-Neutral and also pose no risk to staff and patients. The product also had to be registered with scientific evidence about its effectiveness.
MicroSafe evaluated the current infection control procedures in place and came up with a quicker, cheaper and better solution. Instead of just “venting” the ambulance for up to six hours after transporting an infectious patient, fumigation with the Microsafe® Disinfectant (Nanocyn® overseas name), was implemented.
After transporting an infectious patient it takes less than 30 seconds to fumigate the entire cabin with the Dynafog machines. The very fine mist of fewer than 40 microns reaches every small corner of the area, creating a hospital-grade environment. The fine mist settles on all exposed surfaces and requires less than 10 minutes of drying time, even less in hot outback climates. The ambulance is ready to go very quickly. Additionally, each vehicle is carrying a 990ml bottle to be able to disinfect surfaces while out in the field quickly.
The organization and staff are extremely pleased with the new procedure and the fact they are now able to have many more missions throughout the day due to significantly reduced vehicle downtime. The fumigation procedure has now been extended to include the arrival and transfer areas of Ambulance stations. MicroSafe® (Nanocyn®) doesn’t just ensure a safer environment for patients and staff, but also ensures a higher frequency of rescues that can be performed, ultimately benefiting the wider community.