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Haz Mat "Specialist Course"
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VHF - 11 First Aid Exposures for Treatment Workers

In last month’s post we looked at the decontamination of large spill/patient discharges and how they affect decontamination issues for hospital treatment staff. But what if the treatment staff becomes injured as a result of patient discharge/struggle? We need to consider treatment staff injuries while in the isolation/Hot Zone treating patients. Once treatment staff becomes injured/a breach of his/her skin, he/she becomes downgraded in their operational capabilities.

First, if an injury occurs, your treatment/isolation area/ Hot Zone will need some type of another vessel or bin to immerse the injured site for 20 to 30 seconds in a 70% alcohol solution. Immersion is the best approach but due to size of your isolation areas a spray system could be considered. This site area of the injury would need to remain wet and saturated with the 70% alcohol solution for the entire 20 to 30 seconds.

Second, have the injured patient care worker flush this injured site with running water for 20 to 30 seconds. At this point, the injury can be treated with an appropriate bandage or dressing for the type of wound delivered. The dressing/bandage will then need to be wrapped with some type of cover or saran wrap arrangement as the treatment personnel will need to proceed through the decontamination/disinfection outlined for all team members at a later date.

Next, report this incident to your Team Leader for the proper corrective action. He/she will need to make arrangements after the injured worker proceeds through the decontamination process. At this point, the injured worker becomes a monitored patient. Where will he go? Can you place him in another isolated area of the hospital for an extended time? Will he go home? These are all decisions the Team leader must be prepared for, in other words it’s all about what is next? Team Leaders should be taught like Emergency Managers that whatever is happening now is already done. It’s all about what is next? These decision makers must be a step ahead of an ongoing incident.

The injured treatment worker can now proceed through the decontamination process after these decisions have been made and the appropriate steps/systems are in place.

Once this step is completed, the injured treatment personnel now become a monitored patient for VHF. Whatever the incubation period of your VHF (Ebola is 7 to 21 days) is the length of time to restrict the patient for observation. If no symptoms show themselves, additional testing is done to insure non-exposure/contamination to the VHF. Once this monitoring is completed, the health care worker can be placed back into normal rotation or return to normal duties.

Haz Mat Mike

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