The Coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for everyone. For frontline health workers especially, First Aiders included, patient contact is fraught with danger.
Health and safety measures are high on the agenda and, as a leading provider of First Aid courses in Melbourne, Australia Wide First Aid is keen to avoid the hearsay and promote awareness regarding the dangers of this highly infectious virus.
Read on to find out more about providing Covid-safe First Aid.
PPE — Personal Protective Equipment — plays a defining role in defending against the spread of contagion. It’s important to understand that any protection is better than none. And some protection is better than others.
Some of the types of PPE available for those in the First Aid and medical sectors include:
• disposable gloves
• face shields
• medical aprons
• medical goggles
• P2/N95 masks
• surgical gowns
• surgical masks
The PPE you use when delivering First Aid will depend on your budget, what’s available at the time, and the nature of the hazards you and others are faced with in the circumstances.
The recommended mask for anyone exposed to viral infection is the P2/N95 face mask, also known as the P2/N95 respirator. It is designed to filter the air before it enters the body, effectively blocking particles within the specific size range that applies to the Coronavirus.
The P2/N95 mask will also filter smoke, gases, vapors and dust particles. It made a big impact in Australia during the horrendous bushfire season we experienced before Covid.
The ability for this mask to reduce exposure to contagious airborne viruses, including the Coronavirus depends on how you wear it.
It’s important when wearing the N95 mask, to check that it seals firmly over your nose and around your mouth. This is something you can determine by inhaling. The mask should suction tightly to your face. It will leak where it should tighten if it’s not sealing correctly.
Wearing the best PPE in the world won’t help if it isn’t fitted properly.
Surgical masks are generally worn by medical staff. Another type of protective mask, the surgical mask is loose-fitting compared to the P2/N95 mask, and a disposable type. Nevertheless, any form of protection during the Covid-19 pandemic is better than none at all.
Despite the disposable surgical mask’s loose fit, it will still act as a barrier against aerosols from a patient’s breath or when they cough. Wearing one can certainly go some way toward helping prevent airborne transmission of disease, including viruses.
Face shields are another form of barrier and come in various lengths. They are designed specifically for situations in which blood or bodily fluids are a risk.
This form of protection, while not sealing off the nose and mouth in the way a mask would, can still be effective against aerosol infection. Children might prefer wearing a face shield rather than a mask.
With their clear visors, face shields offer maximum visibility and can be worn with or without other eyewear. A range of products can be used — even smearing inside the shield with dish-washing liquid — to prevent the shield fogging up.
Yes, there is evidence of Covid-19 infecting medical staff through their eyes. Our eyes are vulnerable to many viruses, including Covid-19.
Medical goggles are worn in infection control at hospitals. This type of eyewear is designed to protect the eyes from aerosolised and other particles and is effective in guarding the wearer’s health and safety in close contact situations.
Disposable gloves are, of course, invaluable. You’ll also notice medical staff who are concerned about contagions, often wear disposable aprons and surgical gowns over their clothes to avoid blood and other bodily fluids coming in contact with the skin.
Whether for First Aid or other medical treatment, careful disposal of PPE gear — gloves, masks, aprons and gowns included — is needed to ensure that transmission of viruses and diseases is properly managed.
The best recommendation, not just for health workers, is good hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Use hand sanitiser on other occasions.
Close-up contact should be kept to a minimum. Where close contact can be avoided, stay a body-length (about 1.5m) away from the nearest person (unless of course they are your partner).
Social distancing, PPE and hand hygiene all play important roles in reining in the spread of Covid-19.
You give yourself the best chance of staying Covid-safe by following these recommended procedures and especially wearing PPE if you’re providing First Aid or medical treatment.
Australia Wide First Aid specialises in teaching First Aid for the home and the workplace. Our industry-leading assessors are trained in Covid-19 safety.
Our First Aid courses in Melbourne are conducted with Covid safety measures in place and you’ll find our same-day certification is all you need to prepare you for emergencies in challenging circumstances. Don’t hesitate to call us.
Scientists in Portugal are claiming a major breakthrough in Covid-safe PPE. They have produced a specially-coated reusable face mask they say helps to neutralise the Coronavirus when it comes in contact with the fabric. Even after 50 washes, the protective coating remains effective.
How effective? Virologist Pedro Simas, from the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Lisbon, says the coating on the mask can reduce the infectious units of the virus by 99% in half an hour.
Laboratory testing was performed according to the official ISO viricidal test standard and results indicate the treated fabric is effective in the inactivation of viruses.
The chemicals used to coat the masks have been successfully tested against the H1N1 virus and against the rotavirus by the Institut Pasteur de Lille in France. The mask is also certified by OEKO-Tex, meaning it is safe for human use and contains no harmful substances.
Whether it’s this coated mask or a basic disposable one, Simas is hoping more people cover their mouths and noses throughout the pandemic — “It’s so simple and it’s such a small sacrifice,” he said.
You can see these masks and learn more about them at the Adalberto website.
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