KFD using AeroClave to battle COVID-19

KFD firefighter Victor Hess sets up the district’s new AeroClave machine (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Ever since the spread of COVID-19 hit Marion County in March, the Keizer Fire District (KFD) has done everything in their power to prevent the spread of illness, including drastic deep cleaning of all medical equipment after transporting a patient.

Now, thanks to a new piece of decontamination equipment, KFD paramedics won’t have to worry about disinfecting every square inch of their ambulance.

Last month, KFD received an AeroClave machine, an automated, no-touch disinfectant machine that promises to eliminate the human error of conventional cleaning methods.

“It’s one less thing to worry about. It makes sure our folks are taken care of. The big thing is, if one of our guys gets exposed, they’re out for 14 days,” said Brian Butler, the Division Chief of Operations at KFD. “It’s a peace of mind thing.”

Once the AeroClave is hooked up to an adapter, a fine mist envelops the entire interior of the ambulance with a push of a button.

Before the AeroClave, medical staff had to manually decontaminate the engine every time they transported a patient, which not only took a large portion of time, but also increased the risk of compromising patients and staff members.

The cleaning process takes just 20 minutes with the AeroClave before the engine is ready to be back in service.

“This mist gets into every nook and cranny. Our guys don’t have to worry about wiping anything down. They were wiping everything down with towels before. This machine takes their exposure way down,” Butler said. “If we are transporting a patient that we think might have coronavirus, these guys are coming back to the station and using the machine to disinfect the unit so that the next patient isn’t subjected and out guys in the back aren’t subjected either.”

However, the machine isn’t just for vehicles. The AeroClave is portable and has hose attachments so that entire rooms can be disinfected as well.

“If one of our guys is sick in the morning and goes home. We can also place it in their bedroom and use it to clean their room,” Butler said. “If someone is sick and we don’t know what they have, before we send someone else to be in the room and have them be there and sleep in there, we can disinfect it with this machine.”

The AeroClave was paid for by the federal government via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $2.2 trillion to help the nation deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the total, $100 million will be used to provide supplies and personal protection equipment to firefighters and personnel.