We regularly discuss body substance isolation procedures and the equipment that needs to be worn to protect us from the patient and the patient from us.
And let’s be honest, we can be a bigger danger to the public than they can be to us. The general population doesn’t typically hang around with sick people like we do as healthcare providers. And unfortunately, not all of us are germaphobes. Have any of you ever thought about issues beyond the bodily fluids coming from your patient?
What about bed bugs?
Bed bugs love to travel, and unfortunately it appears that in South Carolina it has become a real problem for EMS, specifically for Calhoun County EMS. It is believed that an ambulance was contaminated with bed bugs after the bugs hitched a ride on the medical equipment. This is concerning because bed bugs are especially hard to get rid of taking between three and four treatments. How many homes were contaminated before the bugs were discovered in the ambulance? How many crews took the bed bugs home with them?
This issue cannot be limited to Calhoun County. I live and worked in the Las Vegas community where millions of tourists come through every year. It’s safe to say we have bed bugs. Thankfully, I am not aware of any contamination issues, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. It wouldn’t exactly be good PR to let that information out to the general public.
Calhoun County recommends using mattress covers and minimizing the equipment that is carried into the home. While the mattress covers are a great idea, the minimal equipment idea, not so much. How many times have we entered a call only to find out the actual problem differs from the dispatch complaint code? It happens all the time. In a hotel, we have to bring everything as it can take more than 10 minutes to reach the patient. A better idea is to regularly inspect and clean your equipment.