The best ways to protect yourself and your patients from infectious diseases: keep yourself and your patients safe by using personal protective equipment (PPE) and best practices.
Coming into close contact with infection or communicable diseases comes with the territory as an EMS provider. Being on the front line means playing an important role in preventing the transmission of disease. The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has highlighted the importance of infection control. Simple, everyday preventative actions can help prevent the spread of pathogens.
Here are a few tips to keep yourself, your co-workers, and your patients safe:
Be aware of potential exposures & use personal protective equipment
Asking the right questions during patient assessment can be vital in determining the level of PPE you will need. Be aware of these signs and symptoms.
- Fever, chills, or general body aches and discomfort
- Coughing or sneezing
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Recent history of increasing weakness and general malaise
- Open or weeping wounds
- Recent trip overseas
(Be sure to place a face mask on suspect patients in addition to PPE.)
Wash your hands
Hand-washing is one of the most important ways to prevent disease transmission. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if none is readily available. You should wash your hands even if gloves were used during patient contact and be especially cautious when handling patients with symptoms.
Keep your immunizations up to date
As a Covalent Health employee, certain immunizations are required to protect you, your co-workers, and your patients. You should also keep up to date on CDC-recommended vaccinations for healthcare workers to reduce your risk to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Cover up cuts and wounds
An open wound is an open invitation for infection. Properly bandage any and all open wounds or cuts and be aware of where they are while assisting patients. Wash the area with soap and water if it is exposed to any contaminants and be sure to check your bandages often to make sure they are properly secure.
Clean and disinfect work surfaces
Keeping your ambulance clean is vital! It is important to establish a regular cleaning and disinfecting routine, not just cleaning when an exposure is detected. This should include frequently used items such as treatment equipment, patient carrying equipment, and monitoring equipment. Remember, it’s not just your health that is improved by a clean rig, but your patients’ as well!
Infection prevention will be a fact of life throughout your EMS career. Embrace simple routines and best practices to keep you and your patients healthy!