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Sgt. Elizabeth Shieler of the West Virginia National Guard enters parameters for the sterilization of a Tri-State Transit Authority (TTA) vehicle on April 23, 2020, at the TTA bus garage in Huntington. Cabell County EMS has acquired a similar sterilization machine that will soon be available to local agencies for use.

HUNTINGTON — Cabell County EMS has acquired a sterilization machine that will soon be available to local agencies for use in facilities or vehicles, Director Gordon Merry told county commissioners Thursday.

The iPad-controlled machine releases hydrogen peroxide vapor upon command that deep-cleans the area desired and kills viruses in about 40 minutes, leaving hardly a trace behind.

Purchased by coronavirus aid funds, Merry said the device, which resembles a fog machine, can be used in various high-trafficked spaces.

“Ambulances, police cars, school buses — anything where there are a lot of people who go through, an office in the County Commission even, if something would happen,” he said. “There’s an iPad. We measure the cars, so we know the dimensions, we know how to set the machine.”

The West Virginia National Guard has been using the sterilization machine since the height of the COVID-19 outbreak on public transportation systems and ambulances across the state, including the Tri-State Transit Authority.

Merry said members of the Guard have been extremely supportive in the county’s acquisition of the machine and will help in programming for local use.

“My goal is to go ahead and pre-program it; we are going to borrow pre-programming from the National Guard because they have already done the police cars and most of the ambulances in the state of West Virginia,” Merry said.

Another goal would be to have members of the Guard who are experienced with the tool conduct training sessions for Cabell County EMS.

Commissioner Nancy Cartmill said during the meeting that acquiring a second sterilization machine could be an idea to entertain.

With two machines, about 20,000 cubic feet could be cleaned at once.

“That’s a possibility. I think the big thing is the unknown,” Merry said. “We’re taking the precautions that we can, and hopefully, I’m praying, we don’t have to deal with this in the fall.”

And even if the novel coronavirus outbreak does dissipate in the coming months, Merry said the machine can be used for other applications.

“It is not just for one application. There are more applications you can use it for,” Merry said. “If we need to deal with the flu in the fall, we can use it for the flu.”

Follow reporter Hanna Pennington via Twitter @hpennHD.

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