Cleaning and disinfection in ambulances should be a quick and effective process to ensure the safety of the patients being treated.
Ambulances or sanitary transport transport daily to sick people who may have suffered accidents or who have acquired some type of infectious disease.
To ensure the safety of health personnel traveling in the ambulance and that of the patients themselves, we must resort to cleaning and disinfection that guarantee the total elimination of infectious microorganisms or fluids.
Below, we highlight some cleaning protocols that must be followed to ensure that ambulances are available in the shortest possible time and in optimal conditions for use.
Basic principles for cleaning and disinfection in ambulances
To perform the cleaning in an ambulance the following rules must be followed:
Remove the metal objects and treat them separately to prevent oxidation.
Wash the cleaning material with water and detergent and replace it when necessary.
Consider biosafety standards to minimize risks.
Ventilate the ambulance, opening the doors and windows for about 15-30 minutes in an outside place and little traffic.
For disinfection we will consider three possible options depending on the level of risk of infection:
Critical surfaces, such as surgical material, will be disinfected by sterilization.
Semicritic surfaces, such as intubation equipment, will be treated by high-level disinfection.
Non-critical surfaces, such as wedges or stethoscope, will intervene with an intermediate level disinfection.
Cleaning and disinfection of the interior of the ambulance
To proceed with the cleaning of the interior of the ambulance we must previously remove all moving objects.
Next, the floor, ceiling and other surfaces will be cleaned with mops or cloths of nonwoven fabric impregnated in a solution of water and detergent.
The metal surfaces will be rinsed with water and dried immediately to prevent oxidation.
The disinfection will be carried out taking into account the classification of the previous point. All ambulance surfaces, including driver’s seats and belts and co-drivers, will be treated.
Once the cleaning and disinfection has been carried out, we must wait about 30 minutes before allowing access to the interior of the ambulance.
Cleaning and disinfection of medical devices
Medical devices will also be treated with a solution of water and detergent for about five minutes and then rinsed with a damp cloth.
All medical devices that need to be sterilized will be removed in a suitable bag to be treated in a space exclusively for sterilization.
In order to leave the ambulance provided with the necessary material for the next service, these will be replaced by newly sterilized or new devices.
Those medical devices considered critical, such as the stethoscope, will be disinfected with alcohol at 70 °.
Cleaning and disinfection of the stretcher
To carry out the hygiene of the stretcher, probably the element that establishes the most contact with the patient, we must remove the sheet and store it in a suitable bag.
The surface of the stretcher will be washed with liquid detergent, including railings, seat belts and legs.
This solution will be allowed to act for about 5 minutes and will be rinsed with a damp cloth a minimum of three times.
For disinfection, we will use a chlorinated or ammonium-based solution and let it act for 10 minutes.
In the case that we use sodium hypochlorite, we will apply a damp cloth to prevent oxidation.
Finally, clean sheets and blankets will be placed to cover the next service.
Cleaning and disinfection of ambulance furniture
The drawers, lamps and paper and soap dispensers are also part of the ambulance and, therefore, also respond to a specific cleaning and disinfection protocol.
In general, the furniture will be cleaned with a detergent solution, rinsed with a damp cloth and disinfected with sodium hypochlorite or alcohol at 70º depending on the level of infectious risk present.
As regards soap dispensers, they must be disassembled for a more thorough cleaning and, if deemed necessary, will be sent to the sterilization center.
Of course, the disposable material will be collected in a suitable bag and replaced by new material.
Cleaning and disinfection in ambulances minimizes the risks of the patient’s condition getting worse or that his stay in the hospital is prolonged.