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Quick-reference guide: Selecting the appropriate PPE

This user-friendly resource aims to address a gap in PPE selection and enhance safety culture


File photo/Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

By Nichole Hansen

Personal protective equipment (PPE) plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of first responders in medical emergency settings. However, the consistent and accurate selection of appropriate PPE remains a challenge, potentially compromising the safety of both responders and patients.

The diverse, dynamic and often unpredictable scenarios first responders face complicate the PPE selection process. While gloves are commonly worn, there is often a lack of consistent adherence to other forms of PPE. This deficiency prompted me to develop a PPE quick-reference chart, aiming to empower responders with a convenient tool for selecting the appropriate PPE in a time-sensitive manner.

Informed by a comprehensive review of relevant literature, consultations with healthcare providers, and an analysis of dispatch call notes, the quick-reference chart was designed as a single-page resource, incorporating patient complaints, symptoms and suspected or diagnosed diseases to guide responders in PPE choices.

The PPE quick reference chart presents a concise and intuitive framework for responders to determine the most suitable PPE based on the information available. By considering the patient’s symptoms and medical history outlined in the dispatch call notes, responders can quickly assess the level of risk and choose the appropriate PPE accordingly. Furthermore, the inclusion of a patient mask application guidance enhances infection control measures, minimizing the potential transmission of pathogens.

By providing a concise, user-friendly resource, this chart aims to bridge the gap in PPE utilization and enhance the overall safety culture among first responders, reducing the risk of cross-contamination or exposure to infectious agents.

About the author

Nichole Hansen is a captain with Lee County EMS, in Fort Myers, Florida.

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Nichole Hansen is a captain with Lee County EMS, in Fort Myers, Florida.