Neptune Township EMS is becoming one of the first emergency medical services in the nation to install a new in-vehicle disinfectant spraying system to protect its members and the residents of its community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Designed by Frontline Innovations, LLC, the MEDS Unit features an onboard system to disinfect an ambulance in between emergencies and significantly reduces the amount of time it takes crews to prepare for the next call, says Bil Rosen, EMS manager, at Neptune Township EMS.
“We are committed, I am committed as the manager here, to keeping my staff safe,” says Rosen. “We’ve done a lot here to keep the staff safe. Decontamination of ambulances and equipment – it’s not just COVID. We know there are bad bugs out there. Now, we have a three-minute spray built into our trucks.”
Neptune Township EMS is having the system installed into each of its six ambulances at a cost of about $7,500 each. The MEDS Unit is described as the only fully integrated electrostatic disinfection system of its kind. Installers mount a supply pump and disinfectant container to an outside compartment of the unit that feeds into a spray head mounted inside the patient compartment. The system designers say the patented MaxCharge nozzle delivers the “fastest and widest ranging coverage available.”
The system was created by Michael McCabe, a paramedic and vice president of McCabe Ambulance Service and Brian Borow, an EMT for three decades and retired Bayonne Police detective.
“As first responders, who have been in the industry for quite some time, there is an awareness that exists of areas that could be improved upon,” says McCabe. “That experience, as well as life during COVID, made it clear to us that the disinfection processes that we employ on a daily basis need to be reassessed. A safe workspace for patient and provider should be available after every call, not just certain ones. Our hope is that the MEDS unit will revolutionize the way we operate moving forward.”
Since the pandemic emerged earlier this year, EMS agencies around the country have scrambled to find ways to disinfect their vehicles between patients and specifically between those patients with COVID-19. To date, Neptune Township EMS has relied on UV lights and hand-held sprayers to handle those COVID calls, along with extensive disinfecting by hand. After a COVID call, a vehicle could be out of service for upwards of 30 minutes minimum, Rosen says, resulting in the potential for missed calls.
Now, with the MEDS unit, after a call, members close the doors to the patient compartment and operate the sprayer system from the crew cab, Rosen says.
“The change in our operations with this is really big in terms of out-of-service time,” Rosen says. “Now we’re back in service in three minutes instead of 30.”
Installation on the vehicles takes about a week, Rosen says, and is handled by VCI Emergency Vehicle Specialists.
“Our EMS squads, led by Bil Rosen, have established itself as an innovator,” says Neptune Township Committeeperson, Carol Rizzo, who oversees EMS in the township. “The squads have protocols established with the hospitals so they can get patient information directly from the hospital to the EMS rigs, saving time and lives! Bil has also focused on assuring that all our ambulances will have a disinfectant spray system that will protect the public and the members of the squads. Our EMS squads are second to none.”
Neptune Township EMS is a combination volunteer and career service providing emergency medical and rescue operations to the nearly 28,000 residents and to nearby communities. The organization is also a host-agency of the New Jersey EMS Task Force, and home to one of the NJEMSTF Medial Ambulance Buses.
Neptune Township EMS is the first EMS organization in the country outside of McCabe’s own ambulances to be fitted with the MEDS Unit.
“We are committed to the latest technology to maintain our fleet in above standard condition,” says Rosen. “It’s all about health and well-being of our staff and our patients.
We have been using electrostatic sprayers for about five years on our HazMat Team so we know it is a proven method.”