Pulsed Light and Ambulance Safety

by | Mar 31, 2021

Ambulances, and the first-responders who serve in them, are the very symbols of safety. When our lives are in danger, they rush to help us. Trained paramedics treat and care for us, and take us to the hospital if necessary. We certainly want to feel safe in an ambulance. And usually, we are.

Yet the truth is, ambulances and paramedics are vulnerable to all kinds of cross-contamination from sick patients. Studies have shown that dangerous pathogens, including some that are resistant to antibiotics, are frequently found in ambulance fleets. This puts patients as well as health workers at risk from contamination, especially at a time when a pandemic is still sweeping around the world.

Ambulance service providers know this, of course, and that’s why there’s a growing interest in UV light and UV Pulsed Light. (Light in the UV wavelength has the power to kill or deactivate a wide range of pathogens. Pulsed Light, the kind XENON makes, is a specialized technology that works in just seconds because it operates at much higher energy levels.)

Where does this technology fit into ambulance safety procedures? First, let’s look at how much work goes into keeping these vehicles clean and safe already.

Typically, paramedics or their support teams have around 20 to 30 minutes to clean their vehicles between calls. If the ambulance has carried patients, it needs to be disinfected. A common technique is for the team to chemically fog the interior and then wipe down the surfaces by hand. This kind of thorough cleaning is usually necessary, but it’s still difficult to do reliably every time. People can get tired and make mistakes, especially if they’re exhausted from a critical emergency run!

To add an extra layer of protection, some ambulance service providers have started using low-intensity UV lights to help disinfect ambulance interiors and gear. While not as effective or rapid as Pulsed Light, it’s highly portable and easy to operate, and is still better than chemical cleaning alone.

Experts also see a place for high-energy Pulsed Light in ambulance fleets. A study published last year in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering showed that UV Pulsed Light is an extremely effective germ-killer in ambulances. What’s more, XENON’s own research, as well as that of many others, has proven that Pulsed Light can destroy 99.9% or more of dangerous pathogens.

While it may not be practical yet to use Pulsed Light after every ambulance call, some have proposed using it once a day, at the end of a shift. In this scenario, after all the regular cleaning procedures have been completed, a special Pulsed Light system would be placed inside the vehicle and activated for a designated time, often just several seconds. To ensure more complete coverage, the system could be positioned in a few different locations.

Nothing can replace thorough cleaning from disinfectant fogs or good old-fashioned bleach and water, but it’s clear that UV light technology can play a role in making ambulances safer. When properly designed and engineered, Pulsed Light installations are safe, easy to use, and require minimal training. And helping to keep ambulances safe is just one of the many health-related applications where Pulsed Light can make a difference in people’s lives. The technology can be found in airports, food processing plants, trains, and many other places.

If you’re interested in developing a Pulsed Light product for ambulances or any other application, XENON can help you make it a reality. As the Pulsed Light company, we offer a family of products specially designed for R&D and OEM use, supported by our own microbiology lab, and a team of engineers with deep experience in product design and application development.

Contact XENON if you’d like to learn more about partnering opportunities in Pulsed Light.