Emergency Responders working on the front lines to help contain and prevent the spread of Coronavirus need to take special, yet extremely common, precautions in order to keep themselves and others safe during this time. Although it’s a difficult time for all of us, those on the front line have been hit the hardest.
To help you understand the impact COVID-19 has had on emergency responders, here are some of the precautions they’re having to take on a day-to-day basis:
Undergoing Additional Training
When it comes to safety during unprecedented times, additional training is essential. From taking extra precautions to the correct way to administer a COVID-19 test, a lot of training has been done at a rapid rate behind the scenes.
One of the most important training sessions emergency responders have had to undergo is in relation to the PPE they’re now wearing, especially as there have been recorded cases where the disease is known to have spread via clothing. As emergency personnel go back to their families after a day of work, they need to know how to wear personal protective equipment properly. This includes knowing how to take it off at the end of the day.
Social distancing has quickly become the norm for emergency responders across the globe.
Where possible, all contact with members of the public should be carried out while maintaining social distancing measures – this means they need to keep a distance of at least 6 feet.
Where it is not possible to keep a distance of 6 feet, emergency responders have to consider the hierarchy of risk using barriers and other alternative working practices. As a final resort, the use of personal protective equipment should be used. This, however, is only in a case where other safe working systems alone may not be enough to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Face Masks And PPE
As mentioned above, if it is not possible to maintain a distance of 6 feet or more, personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential.
Disposable gloves and disposable plastic aprons are to be worn if emergency responders are likely to be making contact with a patient. A surgical face mask should be worn at all times and disposable eyewear should be considered if there is a likelihood of contamination from splashes, droplets or body fluids.
When using a surgical face mask or any other PPE, emergency responders are to ensure the mask is fitted properly. This includes washing your hands with alcohol sanitizer both before and after putting it on and taking it off.
Increased Hygiene Measures
Another important measure when it comes to the response of emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic is hygiene.
This means all emergency responders will be undergoing rigorous cleaning, personal hygiene checks and regular hand hygiene. They will also be avoiding touching their mouth, eyes and nose, whether they’re with a patient or not.
Although these were already measures that were in place, the frequency in which they are done has been increased dramatically. After contact with members of the public, emergency responders will immediately sanitize their hands and their PPE will be cleaned or disposed of.
It’s important to note that this advice is applicable to all situations, regardless of whether there was close contact or the minimum 6 feet social distancing was maintained.
Extra Cleaning Precautions
According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets as well as touching a contaminated surface, so ensuring work surfaces and equipment are clean is now a top priority for emergency responders.
Although cleaning will depend on where medical assistance was provided, it will be carried out in accordance with the advice that has been given for cleaning in healthcare settings. This includes regularly cleaning surfaces and equipment, even if they are not in use.
If emergency responders are called to a public area where an asymptomatic individual may have only passed through, bodily fluids can be cleaned using standard best practice. If there are lots of surfaces an asymptomatic individual has come into contact with, they will be cleaned and disinfected immediately by a professional.
When emergency responders are cleaning, it’s important they keep people away from the area, especially if there has been an incident where a lot of bodily fluid has been released. If possible, they will use a spill-kit and PPE will be worn at all times.
Although these unprecedented times make it difficult for everyone, emergency responders are doing their best to protect themselves and those around them at all times.