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COVID-19 What is your service doing?

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Hi everyone!

Just checking in to see what different areas of the country are doing as far as equipment, training and any other changes that are a result of the pandemic.  I look forward to chatting with everyone.

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Medic511 here.  I have been a member here for a long time but not very active as a poster.  Your question lit a fire under me today because of a local issue here that I had, in almost 20 years as an EMT and Medic,yet actually to see stated in writing.

The manager of ALS EMS in this county yesterday actually sent out a memo/email that says we should save for reuse N95 masks and gowns unless they are visibly contaminated by blood or poop.  I understand that it seems that our country or its government has been remiss in stockpiling an adequate reserve of PPE.  But this seems to me like an outrageous plan to address the situation.

On the first evening of my first EMS course (it was then called First Responder), I was taught about the fundamentals of Universal Precautions, BSI, and PPE.  For twenty years I have followed that practice and as I became more involved in Instructing, taught it to 1,000s of students at all levels.  As a National Registry examiner, I failed those students who ventured into a scene that they had no verified as safe.  Donning a mask previously used during assessment of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient cannot in anyway be said to create a safe scene even it it does not have any visible blood or poop.  Similarly, taking a disposable gown already used treating a potentially contagious patient from a paper bag and donning it just because there is no blood or poop on it visible to the naked eye is a safe practice only in the eyes of an untrained or callously indifferent bean counter.

As you can probably tell from my language, I am appalled, frightened, and devastated by the panic that must be behind this directive.  Universal Precautions have kept me healthy through hep-c, HIV/AIDS, Swine Flu, and ebola and I have never been reluctant to assess, treat, and transport those patients.  But I do not see how I can justify the risks of seeing possible SARS-CoV-2 patients wearing used disposable masks and gowns.    My fire chief?  Oh, yeah, he says he is convinced that "this is just a bunch of bull poop being spread by the media, and not something to worry about."  Somehow, that scares me far more than the  directive.

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