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Experts agree that you are most at risk for catching (and sharing) viral infections between October and May. There are many surfaces in your Comm Center that harbor germs. Here are some best practices for stopping the spread of the cold and flu.

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Should you clean, sanitize, or disinfect ?

According to commercial cleaning expert, Robert Neitzel "Cleaning a surface simply removes visible debris, dirt and dust. Sanitizing a surface makes that surface sanitary or free of visible dirt contaminants that could affect your health... Disinfecting a surface will “kill” the microscopic organisms as claimed on the label of a particular product."

  • A traditional all-purpose cleaner is designed to lift dirt off a surface. While many germs will be physically removed during this process, the all-purpose cleaner won’t remove all contagious and sickness-causing germs.
  • A disinfectant, on the other hand, is designed to kill bacteria, germs, etc.. It is not designed to lift dirt off a surface or make it shiny like an all-purpose cleaner.

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3 steps promote a healthy Comm Center

  1. Personal containment
  2. Clean your dispatch console desk
  3. Wipe down communal areas

1) Personal containment

Wash your hands - often.

Hand washing has proven to be one of the most effective methods for fighting germ spread. According to the CDC: " Handwashing is like a "do-it-yourself" vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. "


Sneeze like a vampire.

Wiki How and the CDC agree that containment is key, "If you don't have a tissue, the best way to catch your sneeze is to bend your elbow and hold it close to your face while sneezing. The goal is to contain the sneeze with your clothing so it doesn't spread into the air."

For printable posters to post in your PSAP, visit the CDC's site, Preventing the Flu.

Know when to stay home, and stay home.

This is hard for a lot of folks, especially when teams depend on you. However, germs spread fast!

Environmental microbiologist Kelly Reynolds at the University of Arizona in Tucson conducted an experiment in her office to track the spread of germs. Within four hours more than 50 percent of surfaces were contaminated with the virus of the sick co-worker. Yikes!


2) Clean your dispatch console desk

Limit eating at your desk.

Not only is it tempting to snack at your dispatch console, sometimes schedules make it necessary.

Unfortunately, your desk and keyboard are likely to have a higher level of bacterial contamination than those of co-workers who aren't eating at their station. Wipe down your surface and keyboard daily. And, remember, to turn the keyboard upside down and gently tap it to dislodge crumbs that may be harboring bacteria growth.

Wash your cup.

You might be surprised how many people do not wash their cups regularly. And why should they? They are the only ones using them, right?

What you may not register are the times you touch the pump pot to refill your coffee - the one that was touched by the co-worker with the budding cold. Then you touch your cup handle, and maybe the edge of the cup as you moved it across your desk. Each action increase the risk of introducing cold and flu germs to your nose and mouth, where they enter your system.

Wipe down surfaces after every shift.

In order to reduce and eliminate flu and cold germs in your PSAP, you need to use anti-microbial rated disinfectants on all personal and communal surfaces.

This is especially important when dispatch consoles are shared. Be sure to include high-touch surfaces including:

  1. keyboard + mouse
  2. phone
  3. personal beverage and food containers
  4. work tools
  5. equipment
  6. surface
  7. power buttons + adjustment controls
  8. adjustable lighting arms
  9. chair arms and chair adjustment levers

3) Wipe down communal areas using this 2-step process

If you want to CLEAN and DISINFECT a surface, you need to begin by 1) removing the dirt with an all-purpose cleaner, then 2) applying a disinfectant to get rid of the bacteria. Please note that wiping down a surface with a disinfectant is necessary even on anti-microbial laminate surfaces. For more details on the properties, claims and reported benefits of anti-microbial laminates, read Do antimicrobial laminates promote health in PSAPs?

  • Use anti-bacterial rated wipes to wipe down knobs, switches, faucets, and remotes at shift changes.
  • Stock hand sanitizers in easy access areas.
  • During cold and flu season, consider swapping fabric hand towels for paper-towels in the kitchen and bathroom to help capture and dispose of germs.

Looking for an effective germ-fighting wipe?

Annie Pryor, Biochemistry Ph.D., mom and germ-fighter, suggests that ..."[a] 3% hydrogen peroxide [solution] and the Zylast hand sanitizer seemed to do a great job." She recommends The Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner if you're looking for a product that works and smells great.

Our friends at Console Center Specialists recommend Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Wipes. The healthcare-rated variety kill more than 40 microorganisms, including 13 antibiotic-resistant organisms. There are no harsh fragrances and they are safe on any surface.

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