Bed Bug Risks in Emergency Response and Transport Vehicles

The most important concern of any emergency response team is the care and survival of the patient.

In today’s world there is another concern… Bed bugs!

Like any possible contagious disease, bed bugs have been added to the list of potential “hazards” because of their unprecedented ability to “hitchhike” on just about anything.

During emergency rescues; clothing, equipment and emergency transportation vehicles are subject to bed bugs as well as transporting them to the hospital and bringing them back to work stations. This can cause great distractions to these teams if not prepared to deal with the possibilities.

In order to prevent and protect against bed bugs, the education of all staff, employees and technicians is mandatory.

Education is the first step in the International Bed Bug Resource Authorities 3 Step System. This includes bed bug biology, nature, identification, reproduction, signs and symptoms, hiding places, risks, health implications, and prevention techniques. The more you know the better your team will be able to help prevent the transportation of more than just the patient – bed bugs!


The cost of bed bug elimination services for emergency vehicles can be significant because of the complicated environment inside and can cause unnecessary down time. Although you are cautious, during transfer a few bed bugs may find their way into the vehicle.

It is not always possible to “decontaminate an individual” prior to being transported.

In extreme emergency situations some of these listed below may not be possible to carry out. Follow as many of these procedures as you can, stay aware of the processes you can’t and follow up to the best of your abilities after the patient has been released.

Ambulance Bed Bug Prevention, Transfer Techniques and Cleaning Procedures:


  • Have a designated team member be on alert and checking for bed bug signs and symptoms at all times when entering any premise.
  • If signs of a bed bug infestation are discovered (blood smears, live bugs, fecal stains, blood spots on bedding and clothing), be extra cautions to where you place equipment (Have a disposable bag available at all times to sit/kneel on, lay across a bed/couch or floor and to place equipment on).
  • Use paper shoe covers on all that enter, remove and place them into a sealed bag for disposal before re-entering your vehicle


  • Cautions for gurney transfer: Be cautious not to transfer any of their own bedding if you can avoid it. If a patient has bed bugs on their clothing, use a clean blanket from the vehicle to swaddle wrap them neck to feet (like a baby) if you can. (This will help to contain bed bugs inside the blanket during transfer and help so bed bugs do not fall off in vehicle during transfer)
  • Cautions when transferring any personal items of patient – place any and all items into a sealed plastic bag.


Immediately notify medical intake of bed bugs during drop off so that they may take the proper prevention steps.

When returning to vehicle with the transfer gurney, collapse the gurney and tightly wrap with 18’ Shrink Wrap (this will help avoid dropping any possible bed bugs inside vehicle until you have a chance to thoroughly inspect, clean and disinfect).

NOTE: Cleaning and disinfecting of equipment can be performed at the receiving medical facility. Some facilities are equipped with a designated area.

  • Thoroughly inspect, vacuum and disinfect inside of cabin as usual after each pick up (remove vacuum bag and place in disposable sealed bag for disposal).
  • Inspect patient restraint straps (spine board, gurney)
  • Turnouts that have possible contamination should be removed, bagged in a red bag or appropriate biohazard container transported back to quarters for immediate cleaning.
  • Inspect all equipment bags made of Cordura nylon for bed bugs and place in a red or appropriately marked biohazard bag and transported back to quarters for immediate cleaning.


Make sure that all surfaces, clothing and equipment are inspected to ensure that no visible signs of bed bugs are present. If such signs still exist, then repeat the cleaning process using approved product.

CAUTION: Chemical Sensitivity

Do not use any other than approved products i.e. (Steri-Fab) inside the cabin of transport vehicle. Steri-Fab contains sumithrin – the toxicological properties of this material have not been investigated.