EMS Tips Operations

Cleaning the Ambulance – to prevent spread of pathogens

I bet you are paying a little more attention to cleaning the ambulance with all the attention, in-service trainings, and patient questions about Swine Influenza (H1N1). has issued Interim Guidance for Cleaning EMS Transport Vehicles. Take a few minutes and read those guidelines.

Save yourself a little bit of time and energy by following these tips to reduce contamination of surfaces and spreading influenza.

  1. If you are the driver, take off your gloves when you leave the patient care compartment. Never drive with your gloves on.
  2. Designate one medic to assess and physically touch the patient. The other medic types or writes information into the PCR.
  3. After using a blood pressure cough or stethoscope don’t return it to the jump kit until it has been cleaned.
  4. Help your patient find a position of comfort that does not entail leaning on or bracing against the cabinets, seats, or benches.
  5. Teach your patient the simple technique to catch their cough in their elbow – instead of coughing in their hands.
  6. Offer your patient, partner, and any first responders a squeeze of an alcohol based handwash.

While your partner is writing the PCR change the cot linen, disinfect the cot, and disinfect the surfaces touched by you, your partner, first responders, and the patient.

Bonus tip: at the start of every shift disinfect the front of the ambulance. The previous crew or a first responder driver may have kept their gloves on in the patient care compartment (ick!).

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.