Ebola Exposure Hazards gear
Photo by U.S. Department of Defense via Flickr
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kevin Baird, the commander of the 53rd Transportation Battalion, practices donning personal protective equipment at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Oct. 15, 2014, while preparing for a deployment to West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance.

As Ebola continues to spread from the outbreak’s epicenter in West Africa, those who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus are those who work closest with infected patients, i.e. first responders.

The InterAgency Board (IAB) released on Oct. 24 recommendations related to selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders against Ebola exposure hazards.

These recommendations build on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s PPE information and provide more detailed information on the selection and use of PPE based upon the risk of exposure.

According the the IAB, This new guidance is based on observations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) practices specifically in hospitals and includes updated requirements for (1) repeated training and demonstrated competency
for healthcare workers in the wearing and use of PPE, (2) selection of PPE so that no skin is exposed, and (3) supervised donning and doffing of PPE. Further details are provided in this guidance for PPE selection, donning, and doffing procedures.

The recommendations include, the risk level associated the patient’s exposure to the Ebola virus ( Know or expected exposure, possible exposure, no known exposure) and their symptoms (asymptotic, fever, body fluids), as well as the type of PPE that should be worn depending on these factors.

The recommended protective gear for a first-responder working with high-risk patients include:

  • Full-body garment
  • Inner and outer gloves
  • Full facepiece air-purifying respirator
  • Calf-height rubber boots

In addition to the expected deployment and use of PPE, prospective decontamination procedures and agents must be considered when selecting PPE items, as certain processes may degrade the ensemble during the doffing process and result in exposure.

To learn more about these IAB guidelines as well as guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control visit their websites: IAB.gov and CDC.gov

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