POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad is being recognized on a state level.

The 2021 New York State Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems EMS Innovation Award for Clinical Delivery Innovations has been given to the Potsdam Rescue Squad.

The PVRS was chosen for this award for the UV Decontamination systems and procedures that were developed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. These were developed by Clarkson University Professors Doug Bohl and Chris Towler, both members of the Rescue Squad.

Two different UVC systems were developed, that cost less than $350 and were easily constructed. The systems were used by PVRS first responders to disinfect reusable N95 respirators when demand for personal protection equipment spiked.

According to Clarkson, no providers had to go without an N95 or reuse a contaminated respirator.

Additionally, the NYS EMS award citation noted, “The pandemic highlighted the need for prehospital providers to utilize proper protective measures to protect themselves and their patients from communicable diseases. This resulted in a greater emphasis on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the proper decontamination of equipment, including ambulances. It was clear early in the pandemic that addressing PPE shortages to extend limited supplies would require creativity and innovation.”

Professors Bohl and Towler also built systems for Clarkson University. This includes a UV system in the health center to clean exam rooms, and the other is with facilities to decontaminate quarantine rooms.