Blood, syringes and used surgical gloves are all items that should be disposed of in trash can marked Hazardous Waste.
But, instead, these items are sometimes left out on the streets.
The Defenders wanted to know, how can this happen?
After all, they are items left behind by trained EMS crews who know all about safety.
So the Defenders took that question to the San Antonio Fire Department, which oversees the city’s EMS crews.
SAFD Spokesman Christian Bove watched video taken by the Defenders from recent accident and crime scenes. One showed a coiled-up, clear tubing lying in the grass .
“(That's) IV tubing,.” Bove said.
Bloody gloves, gauze, and a syringe were also seen in the video.
Bove said EMT crews have a priority.
“In the heat of the moment, they’re trying to take care of these victims, take them to the ambulance,” he said. “Get them to the hospital as fast as possible.”
But SAFD policy is also for EMT crews to clean up after themselves, and besides picking up used gloves and implements, that may include hosing down blood.
The Defenders found scenes where pooled blood was left long after the ambulance was gone.
The executive director of MetroHealth, Dr. Vincent Nathan, said blood and bodily fluids are biohazards that should never be touched by bare hands.
“Never touch, remove, or play, in terms of kids, when they see those kinds of fluids,” says Dr. Nathan.
There is a department policy in place that calls for dangerous fluids to be washed away with a sterilizing chemical.
MetroHealth and the SAFD have also instituted a change whereby other EMT or fire crews that may be near the scene of an incident will be called in to do a secondary sweep clean up.