Went to one call today at a medical clinic, two firefighters walked in just ahead of me, already wearing full body gowns and N95s for a patient with chest pain. There were already four nurses standing around the patient, all of them in full gowns and face shields. The firefighter handed me a piece of paper with the patient’s name on it–all he was able to get in the 20 seconds he was there before me.
This week the state issued guidance. Only one responder should make patient contact, assess and then ask for additional resources as needed. The message hasn’t gotten around yet, but I tell you we are going to run out of PPE if we continue to send multiple units and services to 911 calls and they all make patient contact while donning their PPE.
Unless the person isn’t breathing or is bleeding out, maybe we should only send the ambulance. That’s how it used to be. You have to weigh the threat to first responders (police, fire) versus the limited benefit to the patient of having someone arrive a minute before the ambulance. I know one non-transporting fire department has over 15 people out on self-isolation after being exposed. A few years back this same department never went on medicals.
I keep seeing fire chiefs on TV pleading for PPE.
In another town where fire doesn’t respond, a police officer waited outside the house after hearing from the patient’s husband that she was breathing okay. I then entered the house myself, keeping a distance of six feet while I accessed the patient. I put on a full gown and then went outside and told my partner he need his PPE and needed to come into the house with me because the woman was laying on the floor, and I needed his help to get her up. The officer never had to enter the house or use any PPE. On another call, I was able to walk the patient out of the house and into the back of the ambulance, limited my partner and the police officer’s exposure to the patient, and saving on the use of PPE.
PPE- Personal Protective Equipment