Protection against infectious diseases for first responders

In this video, risk management expert Gordon Graham discusses the importance of first responders staying vigilant to keep themselves protected from COVID and other pathogens

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for all first responders. And it’s about infectious diseases – including COVID-19 – and how you need to stay vigilant to keep yourself protected. 

I get it. We’re all tired of hearing about COVID-19 at this point. But here’s the thing, folks: First responders face an increased risk of exposure to pathogens that cause disease. Not just COVID, but many infectious diseases. Your agency should have a policy and procedure for personal protection on EMS calls, and for isolating and sanitizing equipment and vehicles. Policies and procedures should also address how to report symptoms or possible exposure to infectious diseases, as well as directions for member testing and quarantine. If we’ve learned anything from COVID, it’s that we need to take this stuff seriously.  

It’s never a bad time to review the simple steps to protect yourself. Fortunately, many of these steps apply to all infectious diseases. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Minimize shaking hands and touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can transfer viruses and bacteria to your eyes, nose, and mouth, where they can make you sick.  

Make sure you and the people around you follow good respiratory hygiene. This includes covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. And if you don’t feel well, stay home to protect others.  

What about COVID-19 specifically? It’s still with us and probably will be for a long time. Please don’t get complacent. Maintain at least a 3-foot distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This is especially important indoors. Keep watch for COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.   

If you have those things, a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms specific to COVID-19, please seek medical attention. Be sure to call ahead. That will allow your healthcare provider to direct you to the right healthcare facility. It will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections. 

Last but not least, keep informed on the spread of the coronavirus, its variants, and additional precautions you and your agency can take, including vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization both have current, detailed information on their websites. Your jurisdiction or agency, the professional associations serving police and fire, and organizations representing employees should also have positions related to taking COVID-19 and other vaccines on their websites. 

Please, please, please, stay healthy, stay safe, and protect the health of others. That’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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