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Innovating to find rapid solutions for ambulance decontamination

THE Welsh Ambulance Service has challenged businesses to develop a new innovation to speed up the decontamination of ambulances during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Trust has asked businesses to come up with a solution to accelerate the cleaning of its vehicles so that crews can get back on the road and respond to other emergency calls.

It takes additional time to decontaminate an ambulance that had transported a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patient, taking precious resources away from the frontline temporarily while the vehicle is made safe for the next patient.

More than 200 applications have been received and shortlisted after the Trust put out a call to action through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

Jonathan Turnbull-Ross, the Trust’s Interim Assistant Director of Quality Governance, said: “The safety of our patients and staff through the Covid-19 outbreak is paramount and we have to be on top of our infection prevention and control measures.

“Typically, it can take an additional 30 to 45 minutes to clean an ambulance vehicle that has transported a suspected Covid-19 patient, but the process can also take upwards of several hours, depending on the level of decontamination required.

“We have to think outside the box if we want a solution that is going to speed up this process, and release our crews back on the road quicker to respond to other calls.

“We were delighted with the number of submissions we received, and genuinely excited by the ideas and concepts that these businesses have to offer.

“We look forward to seeing how these will evolve through the evaluation stages, and to understand how these innovations can be further supported to roll out across Wales, which will ultimately save lives.”

The challenge is being managed by the Welsh Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Centre of Excellence, hosted by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, with support from Welsh Government, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and Innovate UK.  

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, added: “I’m really pleased the Welsh Government is supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service to spearhead this UK-wide search for sanitation solutions. 

“Anything which reduces the turnaround time for our ambulance fleet will ultimately save lives because innovation is never more important than in times of crisis.  

“I hope too, that we can find solutions which can be used by our other emergency services and the dedicated workers keeping our public transport on the move.”

Testing will take place at the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, Wiltshire, in mid-April before the Trust will consider the successful solutions which may be implemented across the organisation.