Ultraviolet Light Helps Metro EMS Disinfect Ambulances

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Hospitals have been using ultraviolet lighting to disinfect equipment for years, but now emergency medical services in the metro are using smaller, portable UV lights to disinfect ambulances.

Before turning on the light, crews use sprays and wipes to sanitize the surfaces in ambulances.

The UV process takes around 30 minutes to kill germs like bacteria, viruses, and fungus. West Des Moines EMS says the UV lights use radiation similar to the sun to kill off these items, but unlike the sun the device is portable and does not emit any kind of heat.

With this year`s widespread flu virus, West Des Moines EMS is transporting people diagnosed with influenza on a daily basis.

"We don`t want somebody being treated for one thing and then have something totally different keep them in the hospital longer, require additional treatment,” says David Edgar, Asst. Chief of West Des Moines’ EMS.

Each UV light costs around $400, purchased with federal funding following the Ebola outbreaks.