COVID-19 update December 2020

Covid-19 Update December 2020

The UK is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases which has resulted in a reciprocal increase in the number of calls to ambulance services and with it a new strain of the virus. This dramatic change to the pandemic brought with it a need to increase our awareness of what is happening and how we can safely respond to the situation whilst not compromising staff or patient safety.

To address this situation, there has been a flurry of virtual meetings and correspondence between the Trust and Unison, where a way froward was quickly agreed, resulting in Operational Instruction (OI) 210 (Covid-Secure: Non-Clinical Areas) and OI 101 (Delayed Handover Protocol) being issued on 26 December 2020.

OI 210 Non-Clinical Areas refers to IPC measures that need to be maintained and with regard to ambulance crew cabs, this includes a reminder that drivers MUST wipe down the surfaces and equipment often touched, at the start of the shift and AGAIN when the drivers change over. Attention should be given to the following areas:

Drivers door external handle, internal handle, arm restand door pocket surfaces
Drivers seat rake/ rise / lower handles.
Head-rest and sun visor adjustment surfaces
Seatbelt and buckle unit
Steering wheel and position adjustment lever
Steering wheel hands-free controls and function stalks
Wing mirror and window adjustment buttons
Gear shift and handbrake lever
Dashboard switches, rear view mirror
Airwave base radio and hands-free mic unit
MDT unit and ICE (music radio surface)
Sirens and lights control unit
Air vents, heater controls and fan speed adjusters
Fridge cover and door handle
Crew partner should clean their door handles exterior & interior, door pocket surfaces, seat adjusters, arm rest, headrest, seatbelt, sun visor, window buttons and glove box.

OI 101: Delayed Handover Process

This instruction reiterates that crews are required to carry out any IPC related requirements including “enhanced cleaning in between patients” of the patient saloon area in ambulance. This means a higher level of cleaning than what was carried out by crews in between patients prior to Covid-19.

If this is not possible at the hospital after handing the patient over, it should still be carried out if the facilities are available nearby, before being assigned another call or conveying another patient.

Jeff Pittman

Senior Paramedic

East of England Ambulance Service

Unison Health & Safety Officer


29 December 2020