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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

5 ways to avoid being a flu statistic

As the general population is affected, so will us as EMS responders

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: With medics becoming tied up in a surge of flu calls, Editor in Chief Art Hsieh gives his thoughts below. 

Well, it's arrived. Being reported as the worst outbreak in over a decade, the flu is affecting thousands, if not millions of people nationwide.

It's no surprise that EMS systems are being inundated with calls for service. As the general population is affected, so will us as EMS responders.

Here’s a couple of quick reminders to try to avoid coming down with the flu yourself:

1. Get a flu shot. It's never too late and multiple studies show the effectiveness of being vaccinated.

2. If your patient shows any sign of the flu, don an appropriate mask in addition to your gloves and eyewear.

3. Wash, wash, wash your hands after every call — regardless of whether you were wearing gloves. Scrub thoroughly for at least 15 seconds, paying attention to your fingers, around any rings, and up the forearms. No water? Alcohol gels are a good substitute.

4. Stay rested and hydrated. Don't weaken your own immune system unnecessarily.

5. And please, if you are sick, stay home. No use getting someone else sick, like your patient or your partner. 

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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