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EMS asks for UV lights
Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

Warren County EMS wants to use ultraviolet light to disinfect ambulances between transports. 

According to EMS director Preston Denney, the use of UV lights in ambulances is becoming more prevalent with the spread of COVID-19. A portable, small tower-like device is used to emit UV light that is effective against bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.

“There’s a timer switch that goes from two minutes to 10 minutes,” said Denney, who offered a scenario. “When we get to the hospital and get the patient unloaded, all they would have to do is reach up and flip the switch. While they’re in the hospital, the UV light decontaminates the ambulance.”

Currently, crew member’s use sprays and wipes to sanitize the surfaces in ambulances between patients.

Denney requested the purchase of nine UV light systems at $910 each before a joint meeting of the county Budget and Finance Committee and Building and Grounds Committee. Total cost would be $8,190.

A state reimbursement of $600 per device may be possible, which brings the county’s out-of-pocket expense down to $2,790.

“It would be sometime next year before the money would be there to reimburse us,” said Denney. “We are looking at, roughly, $3,000 out of pocket.”

Also requested were five additional transport ventilators – devices designed to take the place of manual ventilation or “bagging” during emergency or transport situations.

“The ones that we looked at are barely over $13,000 each,” said Denney. “Two years ago, a ventilator was about $25,000. We would need five more and that would give us one for every truck we have.”

Total cost would be $65,000.

“Transport ventilators are used when someone is not breathing or not breathing enough to maintain their oxygen levels,” said Denny. “The option that we have right now is a mechanical bag. Every time the bag is squeezed, the patient gets a breath. If you don’t squeeze, the patient doesn’t get oxygen. If you squeeze too much, getting too much oxygen is almost just as bad as not getting enough. Ventilators remove human error.”

The department currently has three ventilators. Five more would provide one per ambulance.

Joint committee members – Commissioners Scott Rubley, Carl E. Bouldin, Robert Hennessee, Tommy Savage, Christy Ross, Randy England, Cole Taylor and Steve Glenn – unanimously voted to approve the purchase of nine UV lights and five ventilators. 

The measure will be sent to the full Warren County Commission for consideration.