Cleaning machines, previous training help Chatham Emergency Services during pandemic

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham Emergency Services (EMS) is protecting themselves from infection with the help of two heavy-duty cleaning machines.

“Our medics’ suspicion is heightened,” said Chatham Emergency Services Chief Executive Officer Chuck Kearns.

Chief Kearns says one machine is called a ‘mister.’ The Georgia Department of Health gave it to Chatham EMS two months ago to disinfect ambulances within a few minutes.

Staff is using the machine 10-20 times per day. After placing it inside the ambulance for a few minutes, staff open the doors, turn on the air conditioning and wipe down the ambulance.

“It’s like spraying Lysol …throughout the entire ambulance and it coats the ambulance with this disinfectant liquid,” said Chief Kearns.

Another machine can spray ozone gas inside an ambulance for up to five hours. The machine is used only in serious instances when a patient is suspected to have COVID-19.

“Ozone gas will kill thousands of different kinds of bacteria. The list is really impressive, so we’ve been ahead of the curve in the industry for years now,” said Chief Kearns.

In the past, Kearns says Chatham EMS has used the machine to get rid of bed bugs inside ambulances.

Kearns says 8 medics and several supervisors have been training for years on how to transport people with an infectious disease. The training started during the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

Plus, medics have a fully-stocked supply closet, and donations pouring in from local businesses and organizations.

Staff members say they are constantly washing uniforms, changing linens and wearing protective gear.

Kearns says call volume is down, especially traffic calls. Still, he advises the public to call only in a true emergency.

“We’ll take you to the hospital, if that’s what you want to do, but try and make sure they’re real medical emergencies,” he said.

If Chatham EMS responds to your home or business, personnel will stop at your front door and ask you a series of questions before entering. If they suspect you have COVID-19, they will wear a mask and also put one on the patient.

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