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Mortuary Response to VHF - 4 CPC

Wearing specialized CPC (Chemical Protective Clothing) is a must for all Mortuary Response Operational Teams. Specialized Guidelines are also needed for base knowledge of “Donning & Doffing” of this equipment. Correct preparation of the body is essential before the transport and burial practice can be undertaken. Each response team must highlight these practices for Mortuary Responders protection.

While CPC is recommended for all staff in the patient isolation area, Mortuary Teams need specialized CPC due to the nature of their task. While patient staff is creating a barrier between the disease and the caregiver, they are not involved in the rigorous exercises that handling bodies with great weight and size are common between Mortuary workers. For this type of patient/body work additional precautions must be taken. Due to heavy lifting and manipulation of bodies, thick rubber outer gloves will need to be added to your CPC ensemble’. This protects the responder and allows the CPC choice to yield a higher level of gripping strength. This choice is essential to your Teams needs so choose carefully for the best fit in “workability”. Also, more solution volumes will be used and come into contact with the Mortuary Team member. Therefore thicken or increase your durability materials for your outer splash protective garments to upgrade responder protection.

Mortician Guidelines for the wearing of VHF/CPC are also necessary for safe Team operations to be successful. For the Mortuary Team, who wears VHF/CPC?

1] All Doctors Nurses< healthcare workers who provide direct patient care to VHF patients

2] All support staff cleaning isolation site and or equipment/waste

3] All Laboratory support and analysis staff using VHF specimens

4] Security Officers that MAY operate near patients infected

5] BURIAL TEAMS/Mortuary Responders who are responsible for removing bodies of deceased VHF patients and prepare them for burial

6] Family members who care for VHF patients.

Seeing guidelines demonstrate the clear use of CPC for Mortuary Responders, how do we wear CPC? This process also involves a distinct set of guidelines for the Mortuary Responder. These steps taken from the VHF series on VHF response are summarized as follows;

1] Remove body jewelry and ALL personal items. Store them in a secure area.

This initial step is common to ALL Haz-Mat Responders. Many a story can be told on how responders have lost personal items to contamination by forgetting to remove them first. Having a secure place for personal items, cash, wallets, phones, etc., is critical to future responses and communication between Teams and command. Usually, this can be accomplished through the use of one secure container and one Team member that are NOT entering the Hot Zone of contamination. This person could range in duties from IC to Team leader or anyone in between that is trusted by the Mortuary Team members.

2] Remove street clothes and “don” scrub suit.

This practice is best for preventing contamination contact with personal street clothing. “Scrubs” can be carried or supplied and are easily transported, decontaminated, or destroyed after use. Generally, each Team member should always carry at least one set of scrubs in their personal response bag. These can be replaced whenever possible from scene to scene as they are used. If in the “field” a tent or transport vehicle that one can stand up inside to change clothes is desirable. If at a fixed site, locker-rooms are best utilized by the Team member.

3] Progress through a clean travel route to the CPC donning area, Don level “B” SPLASH protective equipment.

4] “Don” respiratory and face splash protective equipment.

5] “Don” 1st pair of inner nitrile protective gloves, tuck under sleeves.

6] “Don” 2nd pair of outer heavy rubberized work gloves, secure over sleeves.

7] Using the “Buddy” system secure all flaps and tape all openings to skin surface.

Steps 3-7 are not only covered in detail inside the VHF response course, but must be altered in a separate course given to specific Mortuary Team members. This is due to the nature of the work task and MUST be done before responding to these incidents. With all CPC and respiratory equipment, remember once a secure and comfortable fit is achieved, DO NOT adjust(s) AFTER patient or body(s) contact is made. This may cause exposure to the Mortuary Team member. Once CPC has been donned, DO NOT re-enter the general health care facility without first passing through your decontamination process.

In case of an emergency need or a replenishment act for the Mortuary Team, designate a “Buddy” member to serve as a liaison’ in between your work site and the “clean” health care facility. This includes any area that contains equipment caches. Next month we will explore “Hoe to Prepare the Body” for transport and final burial.

  Haz Mat Mike


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