New CDC Ebola guidelines leave questions for EMS

The PPE protocols contain solid information for hospital treatment, but don’t address specific EMS concerns

The evolving guidelines from the CDC on the management of Ebola patients contain solid information that health care providers should heed when dealing with any contagious situation.

Highlights include:

  • Make sure that respiratory protective equipment such as N95 or P100 masks are tightly fitted against the face.
  • Double glove while in full protective gear to allow for more effective doffing procedures.
  • Proper PPE removal is just as important as putting it on. 
  • A supervisor to watch donning or doffing PPE provides an extra checkpoint to ensure every step is appropriately taken.
  • PPE proficiency through training and practice is required before treating infected patients.

However, the guidelines also raise specific questions about the availability of appropriate PPE for EMS providers:

  • Has the equipment been specifically made for folks who have to climb stairs or lift heavy equipment, or has been modified from PPE made for hospital personnel? 
  • How will the delay in transport caused by doffing procedures be seen in the treatment of a patient in extremis? 
  • Do EMS systems have the equipment, location and trained personnel to properly decontaminate an ambulance after a significant exposure?

It would be of great assistance if our federal EMS experts could provide more specific guidance in these areas. 

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