MORGANTON, N.C. — Burke County EMS is testing new technology, which could protect first responders across the Charlotte region from contracting COVID-19.
More than a dozen of the county's ambulances now have ultraviolet photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) units, which can kill pathogens inside the emergency vehicles, including the novel coronavirus.
Jason Seidel owns Cu Healthy Products, and he sourced the PCO units in 13 of the county's ambulances.
Typically, ultraviolet light can only disinfect the area where its light is shining, but Seidel said the county's PCO units don't have that limitation.
"This device, when it emits ions from the top of the device, it can actually wrap around and disinfect surfaces that you can't see," Seidel said.
Those surfaces include underneath the gurney and corners blocked by cabinetry.
Burke County EMS Sergeant Robby Milton has been on calls with patients who possibly have COVID-19.
"There's a significant amount of time in between each call that goes into disinfecting, cleaning and preparing," Sgt. Milton said.
Both Sgt. Milton and Burke County EMS Major Jason Black said the new units will add an extra layer of protection for paramedics and patients.
"This is going to help us for years," Maj. Black said. "It's not just for COVID. It's really for any infectious disease to make us safer."
Researchers at Carolinas Healthcare System-Blue Ridge and Inspired TEC will study the effectiveness of the units to see if other EMS agencies in the Charlotte region could benefit from the technology.
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