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Covid-19: Harnessing Defence Innovation

May 12, 2020

Scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory have tested 12 methods to speed-up the sanitising of ambulances – in some cases reducing cleaning time from an hour to around 10 minutes so more lives can be saved.

More than 200 ideas were submitted to the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) by industry in just seven days following the appeal, which was launched on behalf of the Welsh Ambulance Service, Welsh Government, The Small Business Research Initiative Centre of Excellence, and Innovate UK.

Gabriella Cox, DASA security competition lead, said: "This has been a huge effort from everyone involved. The response by industry was remarkable and there has been a monumental effort by staff from DASA, Dstl and our partners to be able to complete this project in just 33 days. Innovation has never been more important as we play our part in the national effort against Coronavirus."

Dstl scientist Steve Mitchell, who led the trials, said: "The trials have shown some really promising ideas ranging from fogging techniques, sprays, and using a decontaminant vapour to give a thorough and deep clean in the quickest time possible.

"This has been a big challenge for everyone involved to turn this work around in such rapid time with the possibility of one of the solutions being taken forward by the Welsh Ambulance Service in the next week or so."

Elsewhere in defence, hundreds of personnel have been mobilised to help support ambulance services across the UK. Drawn from all three services, they are providing support in a variety of roles, including driving emergency response vehicles and working in response centres. They have all been trained in first-aid and trauma, which will mean they can support ambulance crews where required.

So far, the military are providing support to the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the East England Ambulance Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service.


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