Infection Control in Ambulance Services – the quiet revolution

Ellie Golling1

1St John WA, 209 Great Eastern Highway, Belmont, Western Australia, 6104, ellie.golling@stjohnambulance.com.au

Ambulance personnel are at a high risk of exposure to pathogens as a direct result of the nature of their roles. Factors that contribute to the high exposure risk are the provision of care in challenging and unpredictable environments, contact with multiple health facilities, high risk exposures to blood and body fluids, and frequent contact with patients with communicable infections. In addition to this, the Paramedic scope of practice continues to evolve, with the inclusion of more advanced and invasive procedures where the focus is prioritised on patient survival rather than strict adherence to infection prevention practices.
Despite these unique risk factors, the out-of-hospital ambulance setting remains widely overlooked in national guidelines and standards. Furthermore, across Australia there are very few trained Infection Prevention and Control Specialists working in Ambulance Services.

There is however, a quiet revolution happening. With the formation of a special interest group for infection prevention and control in Ambulance Services, the 2019 Council of Ambulance Authorities Annual Congress delivered the inaugural infection prevention and control masterclass in Perth, focusing on the special considerations for infection prevention and control in Paramedicine.

This presentation will provide an overview of the challenges of working as an Infection Control Specialist in an Ambulance Service, and on a national level, how a small group of Infection Control Specialists are striving to improve infection prevention and control practices in Ambulance Services across Australasia.

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