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Everyday EMS
by Greg Friese

Fight seasonal influenza this season

Name: By Greg Friese

Is seasonal influenza an unwelcome holiday gift in your workplace, home, or service area? As of early December, seasonal influenza activity was most prevalent in the southeast United States and sporadic cases were reported throughout the country (click here for a weekly US map Influenza Summary Update).

As we enter peak flu season around the nation, heed these Everyday EMS Tips.

1. Know the signs. The hallmark signs of influenza are fever, cough, body ache, congestion, and fatigue.

2. Protect yourself. By now you should have received your annual flu shot. If not, you can probably still get vaccinated. Remember important personal protection with gloves and consider a mask if you can't mask your patient.

3. Clean surfaces and equipment. Disinfect any surfaces the patient's droplets may have come into contact with. If this CDC statement is true,"People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away" — which surfaces shouldn't you clean in the ambulance?

4. Patient advice. For patients that decline transport, as well as your friends and family that become ill with influenza, the treatment mainstays are rest, fluids, anti-pyretics for fever, and NSAIDs for body aches.

5. Practice and teach hand hygiene and good cough etiquette. Catch your cough and sneezes in your elbow and not your hands. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer.

Learn more about Seasonal Influenza from the CDC.

About the author

Greg Friese is Editor-in-Chief of He is an educator, author, paramedic, and marathon runner. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at

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