Thanks for taking time out to speak with us Domenic, particularly at such a busy time. We’ve known each other and worked together for the past 10 years, so I know how much it means to you to deliver on your company’s promise of providing first-class care to patients on time, every time.
What is it about the way you have set up iON that enables you to keep that promise?
Domenic, iON Ambulance Care:
As a CQC registered, independent ambulance provider with a national presence the only way we can live up to that promise is for all of our people to keep 3 words at the forefront of their minds. We must be Safe, Caring and always Improving.
The ancient Greek word ion means ‘going’. iON Ambulance has always had a sense of energy and forward motion. We strive for the highest possible standards in what we do, which of course is a constantly moving target. Running this business has never been about doing what is required of us, it’s about considering what is right for our service users and our staff. We treat people as if they were our family members, only the best will do.
What have been the most challenging aspects of running an ambulance service during a global pandemic?
I think the sheer volume of patient transportation requirements has been one of the hardest things we’ve had to deal with, the constantly changing requirements of the patient journey along with their individual treatment demonstrates the ever changing field of patient care. Luckily, here at iON we have invested and continue to invest in state of the art ambulances. That enables us to be on the front foot, delivering exceptional patient experiences with high quality care as a major part of that. With a growing fleet of vehicles and operational bases we are in a great position to flex with peak demand.
Patient safety and the safety of our crews has been a constant worry to me and the senior leadership team. I continue to be really concerned for their safety, especially as we were dealing with a new virus that no one really understood. The mounting pressure and the uncertainty are far more intense for us because we are dealing with an evolving pathogen. It’s challenging being in such a fluid situation over the long term, where you simply don’t know how things will unfold.
At the onset of the pandemic we were forced to deal with many factors: a lack of knowledge of the virus, worries about everyone’s well-being, massive shortages in PPE stocks across the world. We had to make sure we were really thinking through how as an ambulance provider, we could support the NHS and our partners to help them deliver world class care on a daily basis.
Setting out with strong principles is one thing, but what do you think has helped you maintain them?
When I set up iON Ambulance I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to establish an ambulance company that was able to deliver safe, high quality, person-centred care that was effective and well run. To be able to do that I made the decision that investment was a key driver. I have kept on investing ever since – in technology, in training and in our people. It’s the only way we can consistently uphold the exacting high standards we set ourselves.
Every 3 years, we upgrade our fleet of ambulances, investing in the latest technology and equipment from stretchers to defibrillator’s. We refresh staff training every 6 months across all aspects of the business. I’ve just re-configured the placement of stretchers in our frontline ambulances to give our staff access to both sides of the patient to enable treatment to be given quickly and safely. These kinds of bespoke fit-outs all cost more to deliver.
I see these investment decisions as the route to giving service users a better treatment experience and keeping my crews’ working environment the best it can be for carrying out lifesaving treatment. I’m in this for the long haul. Why would I undermine that by looking at ways to keep running costs low in the short term? It’s a false economy and does nothing for the reputation of our business.
Why is keeping up with the latest thinking and technology in Infection Control important to you and the team at iON Ambulance?
iON Ambulance service has focused on Infection Control as a top priority from day 1. The pandemic hasn’t changed anything in that regard. We have always gone the extra mile to ensure we are using the latest products and industry-leading cleaning systems.
Knowing we are doing all we can to protect people has really helped staff confidence. This is really important for me personally, because I know how much risk I am asking everyone to take on every time they turn up for work. Working in healthcare and in ambulances, crews come into daily contact with patients who have contagious diseases. They have to work alongside people every day, well aware of the risks.
ClearTrace’s SD50 Broad Spectrum Disinfectant is used daily in our vehicles to kill pathogens in as little as 30 seconds with a simple spray and wipe procedure. It is effective against pathogens such as Zika, Ebola and Coronavirus SARS-2 Covid-19. As an independently verified product we know it is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, mold, mycobacterium and spores. It gives us belt and braces protection.
As you know, ClearTrace also provide us with regular compliance audits that include scheduled and unannounced swab testing of our ambulances as well as CQC Audits. Your teams are here for our CQC visits and inspections, Level 2 IPC (Infection Prevention Control) Training, Make Ready Services for our frontline and PTS fleet as part of iON Ambulance’s overall approach to comprehensive hygiene management.
But we know this new virus is highly contagious and is affecting everyone, including those who were normally fit and healthy. Naturally, this had serious consequences for everyone so we needed to up our game. We have to keep proving to our staff that we are doing everything humanly possible to keep them safe, doing their utmost to protect them from Healthcare Associated Infections such as Coronavirus SARS-2 / Covid-19.
Is that why you came to ClearTrace to ask about UV-C?
Absolutely. I’d been following the use of UV-C light and its application for Infection Control with interest. The initial results and subsequent information highlighted the effectiveness of this technology and I was keen to see if this could be used in ambulances. But as ever, there are always companies coming out of the woodwork saying they have ‘the latest thing’ and making claims that can’t be substantiated. You could easily end up working with technology that isn’t fit for purpose.
Having a really close working relationship with you at ClearTrace as our Infection Control Partner really helped. As I remember James, I immediately turned to you and asked your advice about using UV-C light to terminally disinfect ambulances. As ever you didn’t disappoint because you were already working with this technology here in the UK, putting it through its paces on a number of trial sites with various ambulance designs to demonstrate efficacy and ease of use.
You were able to show me technical data, efficacy and terminal disinfection rates that were outstanding and really made me keen to learn more. The research and data connected to the Finsen Tech THOR UVC® that really impressed me.
The more I delved into the research with you, the more I was convinced that the power of UV-C light would be a game changer in terminal disinfection in ambulances.
Then I got the chance to use the kit myself here in my own ambulances on trial. That really showed me THOR UVC® lives up to the hype and I knew I was right. The results spoke for themselves. The trial and the initial results that I was witnessing with my own eyes were backed up by culture swabbing and other evidential data in my own fleet of ambulances.
I’m not interested in anything to do with an Infection Control solution that just looks good, or makes people feel like you’re doing something when it’s actually not very effective. For me, I want an Infection Control solution that delivers consistent proven results. There is no other choice, safety is our number one priority.
That’s why I chose ‘Johnny 5’.
‘Johnny 5’ is the THOR UVC® system from ClearTrace and Finsen Tech. This R2D2-style robot has enabled us to terminally disinfect vehicles, stations, crew rooms, drug rooms and PPE safely and effectively.
My ‘Johnny 5 Robot’ as he’s affectionally known – or more officially THOR UVC® – has become an integral part of the Make Ready Team. Johnny 5 gives me absolute confidence that my staff and our patients are safe, first time, every time. We set him up in the room and watch him go to work. Then we look at the proof. Fully disinfected. First time, every time.
Not only that but I know how fast he can give me that certainty. For example, if we are transporting a patient with Covid in a fully pre-cleaned ambulance, we have to return that ambulance back to base for decontamination. Even if it’s just a short hop back to the ambulance station. Normally that would mean I have an ambulance out of action for over an hour, while a ClearTrace Infection Control Make Ready Team cleans it from top to bottom. With my Johnny 5, terminal disinfection takes place in about 15 minutes, yes that’s right, a game changing 15 minute turn around.
There is a constant time pressure on ambulance services to be there exactly when patients need us, so giving me back 45 minutes in turnaround time is a huge benefit both to the NHS and of course to the patients who are waiting for us to be there for them in their hour of need.
Most UK businesses are talking about battening down the hatches for the recession. Will you be pulling back on planned investment?
This is exactly the point at which companies in our sector should be investing as much as possible, not pulling back. As we try to navigate a potential second wave of the virus whilst making sure patients with other conditions are safely cared for, we need to be absolutely on top of our game when it comes to the kit we use and the information our teams are working from.
If we don’t we’re failing our patients, we’re failing their families and friends and we’re failing our NHS.
That’s why we choose to work with ClearTrace as the UK’s leading Infection Control Management Company. Working with you gives us absolute faith that we are making the best possible choices on the products and equipment you offer, like Finsen’s THOR UVC®.
You provide us with all the expertise and services we need to operate an effective Infection Control policy.
No other IPC Provider offers this level of service, safety and security as a standard. We wouldn’t go anywhere else. We’ve used other services and providers in the past but the commitment and expertise we gain from you and the team at ClearTrace are second to none.
iON Ambulance Care operate across London, the South East of England and the East of England and use ClearTrace Infection Control and Finsen Tech’s THOR UVC® machine to decontaminate their fleet of vehicles.
Domenic Kasinos can be contacted on email@example.com
ClearTrace Infection Control operate nationwide and are the UK’s leading Infection Control Management Company. Offering a bespoke Total Hygiene Solution ClearTrace provides industry leading chemicals, systems and solutions across healthcare and ambulance providers.
James Staniland can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org