Respiratory and non-respiratory viruses and bacteria can be easily transmitted in populated places and social settings like the work environment. Avoiding repetitive contact with other employees and equipment in these situations can decrease the number of opportunities for infectious bacteria and viruses to be transmitted. The right preventative and cleaning measures in your workplace can play a huge role in slowing down transmission to your outside community. During a severe flu pandemic or season, the folks at FirstWatch want to be sure we arm our customers with the proper knowledge of preventative measures to take in flu-proofing their environments.
For those that are wondering how flu viruses may be impacting your agency, and therefore your community, consider some of the following to mitigate the impact:
- Revisit flu vaccination for the workforce — This might be available through the employer or through the employee’s insurance, either from their Primary Care Provider or a drug store chain. This stay will help to not only prevent the spread of flu in the work force, but also to prevent transmission from employees working with vulnerable patients.
- Separate patients with flu-like symptoms — Prepare to triage those with flu-like signs and symptoms in alternative areas set-up outside normal areas of the hospital and/or emergency department.
- Proper use of PPE — Consider increasing first responders’ awareness of the proper use of PPE (i.e. N95 masks, gloves, etc.) to protect themselves and how to properly disinfect the truck and equipment to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Frequent hand-washing — Practice frequent hand-washing with soap and water, as well as the use of waterless hand cleaners (at least 70% alcohol), throughout the day. Also, disinfect common areas likely to harbor the flu virus (i.e. door knobs, computer keyboards, light switches, tables, telephones, etc.).
- Stay home if you are sick — Consult your management/human resources team and determine if you should stay home. Do not return to work until you have gone 24 hours without a fever, without the use of fever reducing medicine.
- Use of the SRI screen and Pandemic Protocol Card — The International Academy of Dispatch has, for the greater public good, provided a SRI (Severe Respiratory Illness) screen and a Pandemic Protocol Card that can be downloaded from their website, The SRI is designed to be used, by call takers, to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms of an influenza-like illness (ILI). The Pandemic Protocol Card is designed to be used when either the first responder and/or Community Health resources are overloaded.
- Practice social distancing at work — Minimize close contact among persons in the workplace. Try to keep at minimum 3-4 feet between yourself and other people and avoid face-to-face meetings. Whenever possible, avoid sharing equipment and socializing in common areas. It is also a good idea to bring your own lunch and eat at your personal desk.