As soon as the COVID-19 outbreak hit Florida, Fort Lauderdale’s Fire Rescue Department knew that some changes would have to be made.
“One of the biggest challenges was to get ahead of the virus by properly disinfecting not only the personnel that were responding to these calls but also to the trucks we were transporting these patients in,” said Stephen Gollan, a battalion chief with the department.
He told NBC 6 the department has been using ‘Byo-planet,’ a spray to disinfect surfaces. “With COVID-19 being such an airborne type of virus, we knew that we had to go to the next level,” Gollan said.
The department also implemented a device called “Sanity System," which is widely used by ambulance companies throughout Europe. It utilizes Ozone technology to eliminate 99% of viruses, bacteria, molds and fungus from the back compartments of ambulances.
To work it, all paramedics have to do is turn the system on, along with the truck’s air conditioner, and close the doors.
“After 20 minutes they come back and it’s noticeably clean,” said Gollan. “You can smell the difference in the air.”
The truck is out of service for those 20 minutes. However, Gollan says there are enough trucks available to avoid a major delay responding to calls. He hopes this new process eases fears.
“If we didn’t properly disinfect these trucks after every call that we ran, we would be doing a disservice to the community that we serve,” he said. “We would have individuals with heart attacks that may be concerned to even call 911 because they feel they may get covid from being in the back of our truck.”
He said it’s working for his team, and the more than 400 employees with the department.
“We only have one individual that has tested positive. So with those types of numbers, we are very, very happy and feel that our decontamination process is what helps us protect our personnel,” he said.