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When Clean just isn't Clean Enough

Medical crews respond to countless emergencies in a single day. After each call, technicians scrub down their equipment to avoid exposing the next patient to diseases, microbes or bodily fluids. Despite these efforts, a study conducted in partnership with the University of Miami recently examined 55 "cleaned" active-duty backboards and found that every board was contaminated with at least 11 different strains of bacteria and microorganisms. Yuck!

Man on stretcher To solve this problem and eliminate cross-contamination, Scott Neusch, a retired firefighter and paramedic, submitted an idea to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). The S&T TechSolutions program works to provide information, resources and technology solutions to address technology gaps identified by first responders to help them on the job. This group researched the market to determine the novelty and value to EMS responders, and conducted a focus group of EMS responders who validated and improved upon the idea.

The result is Board Armor – a disposable backboard cover that reduces infection rates in patients and saves valuable emergency response time. It is made of a non-porous medical-grade material that prevents bodily fluids from contaminating the backboard and eliminates the need to clean the backboard between each use. Board Armor provides a clean surface for each patient to lie on and reduces turnaround time for Emergency Medical Service providers.

DHS S&T has developed a number of tools to support the first responder community through the TechSolutions program including Multi-Band Radio Technology, which enables emergency responders to communicate with partner agencies regardless of the radio band on which they operate as well as the Next Generation Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus that incorporates new pressure vessel technology allowing emergency responders to experience less stress, be able to move more easily in confined spaces and avoid entanglement, and to operate more safely in hazardous response environments.

To learn more about the TechSolutions program, visit firstresponder.gov.

To request more information about this story, please e-mail st.snapshots@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 01/12/2023
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