Ultraviolet Systems for Ambulance Disinfection During a Pandemic

Ultraviolet Systems for Ambulance Disinfection During a Pandemic


Hi, I’m Steve Martin. I’m a Captain in
the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service and also a research
engineer in the Field Studies Branch of the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division. I am also
the lead investigator, investigator on a research effort looking into ways to use ultra violet
or UV energy to better prepare and respond to disease pandemics. At appropriate doses
UV energy is capable of inactivating harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi so they are no
longer capable of causing disease. So ultraviolent energy can play a critical role in protecting
health care workers, first responders, and patients during a pandemic event. During disease
pandemic, ambulances will be used to transport the sickest of patients while they are symptomatic
and likely at their most infectious. The small confines of an ambulance module have the potential
for surface contamination at higher concentrations then are typical in a hospital environment.
Manual surface cleaning is the primary method for ambulance decontamination, but this cleaning
method is difficult, its tedious, and time consuming for the staff involved and would
be even more problematic during a pandemic event. Because of this, the rapid and effective
decontamination of ambulance surface modules has been identified by CDC as a research priority.
Research has shown that UV systems are an effective adjunct to typical cleaning methods
for the terminal disinfection of hospital patient rooms and with modifications UV systems
can probably be used to disinfection ambulance modules as well. We have 2 ambulances that
we’re working with and when it comes to UV energy increasing surface reflectivity
really helps get the UV energy to hard to reach or shaded areas, so we have worked hard
to increase reflectivity in our ambulance modules to the extent possible, and then in
the first ambulance we’ve installed a portable UV tripod system that can be used to disinfect
any stationary unoccupied ambulance. In the second ambulance we have installed a permanent
UV fixture package that can be used to disinfect an unoccupied ambulance, even as the ambulance
is driving down the road to its next call. We need to continue working to refine our
UV systems and develop science-based protocols for their use. More microorganism testing
needs to be done so we really understand how well the systems work and what their limitations
might be. We are also trying to develop a mobile, programmable UV robot that can be
more easily tailored to different ambulance modules. When our research is completed, we
then need to focus on disseminating our information to the right people so additional research
can be done and UV technologies can be implemented in the disease pandemic planning.

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