Reducing infection in the pre-hospital environment
There are strict protocols in the field of emergency medicine when it comes to limiting the risks of infection.
As ER24 Emergency Care Practitioner Chloe Buma explains, it’s important that all ER24 practitioners comply with infection prevention and control guidelines which include the use of personal protective equipment and handwashing as the first line of defence against cross-infection.
Practitioners wash their hands and forearms with disinfectant after each call (primaries) and before assessments of in- hospital patients (transfers). We also have alcohol based hand spray in all our vehicles as an alternate for those low water situations.
It is compulsory for all ER24 practitioners to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when managing body fluids from our patients. “This includes disposable gloves, eye protection/ goggles and disposable infection gowns when transporting infectious patients.”
“On top of this, we prefer to use disposable equipment in our pre-hospital environment, especially when transporting infectious patients. All non-reusable equipment is discarded after a single patient use, and reusable equipment is cleaned and disinfected according to manufacturer protocols and ER24 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” Buma says. “Non-corrosive materials are used to ensure the equipment is not damaged for future use.”
All ER24 ambulances and helicopters have “sealed” floors, to prevent fluids of any kind becoming trapped beneath non visible/non-accessible obstructions, and these are cleaned at least every 12 hours, or more frequently if required after transporting a patient who may be infectious.
“In the event of a major blood/fluid spill or after the transfer of an infective patient, the vehicle is booked ‘unavailable’,” says Buma. “This allows crews enough time to comprehensively clean the vehicle in sluice bays, ensuring the waste products are properly disposed of. Another ER24 SOP sees these ‘deep cleans’ happen weekly. This involves the disinfection of all monitors, shelves, floors, doors, handles in the patient transport space.”
Last but not least, soiled linen is separated into those that are simply dirty, and those that have been exposed to bodily substances, and taken to be washed by designated service providers.