As has everyone, the Lodi Area EMS has had to make some changes in their operational procedures in the face of COVID-19. Unlike most other businesses and organizations, a great deal of those changes are minor–because EMS crews regularly deal with unknown medical situations.
The Ambulance Station
As with everywhere else, the Lodi Ambulance station is closed to visitors. This includes all classes, tours, and public events. Additionally, the on-site crews perform sanitizing wipe-downs of all “high-touch” areas multiple times per day.
Very little has changed with regards to the vehicles. Regular disinfection has always been standard operating procedure (SOP). The crew uses a variety of disinfectants, including a standard bleach & water solution.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach to a gallon of water. If you’re sanitizing places or items where bleach isn’t a good option (children’s toys, dishes, etc.) 70% rubbing alcohol is recommended. The bottles you buy at the store are typically 70%–it should say so on the label.
The ambulances are also equipped with an ultra-violet (UV) light. After a run, the EMS crew turns on the vehicle’s UV-C lamp and runs it for 60 minutes. This is a process known as Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI). These special lights use high-energy UV-C light to “burn” pathogens such as mold, bacteria, and viruses. UV-C is the highest-energy UV light–up to 3 times as strong as the UV-A used in tanning beds.
Finally, the vehicle is left open to air out whenever possible, and the air ventilation system is run throughout the entire call.
The ambulance crews have implemented self-screening before each shift. The full-time staff conducts checks every 12 hours and logs the information on an evaluation form. On-call staff completes this check prior to any shift they’re working.
Finally, after any calls where there is evidence of respiratory conditions, staff has been instructed to shower, wash all of their clothing, and redress in clean clothes.
Lodi EMS Director, Russ Schafer reassures the community:
It is our goal to remain healthy for our community. If you see us in masks and gowns, it is for your safety and ours. It’s not because we are scared, it’s because we care. We care for you, we care for ourselves and we care for our families. These are unprecedented times for EMS.
A Lodi native, Blaze attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where he graduated with a degree in theatre technology & design. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world–including a 6-year stint in China. He has been a teacher, a writer, a designer, and is the founder of the Redleaf Consulting Group.