Always wear your PPE

Share a survival experience with us and explain what you learned from it. You might help someone.

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Always wear your PPE

Post by Rockyota » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:40 am

This is just a reminder to always wear your gloves when rendering first aid to anyone. I tend to have more inclination to glove up when I'm clearly dealing with "risky" individuals. This incident was one of those wake up calls to me that I need to be wearing them every time. If you care for the story it goes something like this:*

So dude dumps his M/C in our town last night. Some of the nice citizens run out of their house, with bath towels and such, to stop the flow of blood from his broken little cranium (Yes he started with a helmet on, I have no idea why it came off in the wreck). We get there and the citizens are doing their good deed elbow deep in this guy's blood. Paramedics and FD take over, get the guy bundled and shipped.

I get to work today and someone asks "So... who touched the motorcyclist last night?" We all look at each other and ask "Why does it matter?" He goes on to tell us the rider is HIV+. We all breathe a sigh of relief, because we did things right or had no contact, but one has to wonder about the good samaritans. I reflected on how a poor decision on my part last night would have set myself and family up for months of tests and worry. I figured it was a good reminder and I should share.

*(some details changed because I'm not an expert on HIPAA crap and don't really want some medical professional yelling at me for breaking the rules : )
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Sgt. DoubleTap » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:34 am

Oh so you must be a cop...One time I was working on a patient who was having a severe reaction to some chemical imbalance from having Hep C. I thought she was possessed, so we are trying to get her settled down and she bit me. Like really bit me, on the hand, right through my glove. I had to go to the hospital and get checked out, everything was okay but still. So always wear your PPE and safety glasses, and keep a maglite handy.

I was just kidding about the cop thing.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Rockyota » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:51 am

Yeah, I already coughed up the cop thing on another post. I'll admit I've got enough Law in my head, without trying to memorize more federal garbage. : ).
Getting bit is frustrating, especially when you've done everything right by donning your PPE. Did you do the chemical cocktail or wait for the test results? And +1 on the maglight! :mrgreen:
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Sgt. DoubleTap » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:27 am

In our careers of being in public safety you never really take off the badge. No on closer examination there was not skin breakage, although there were teeth indentations for a couple of hours so the gloves kind of worked.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Drackar » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:03 pm

And this is why I carry a few pairs of Nitrile gloves in a ziplock in the easiest to access pocket in my backpack.

I had my hep-c scare when I was in highschool. I don't need any more.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by sirenmoses » Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:00 pm

Dude, HIV? That's so 80's.

HepC and TB are the bugs to be most afeared of now. How often did you put on a mask, pre-H1N1?

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Istvan56 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:48 am

I had a similar experience to the OP back a dozen or so years ago in Portland. I'm off duty looking to catch a bus down on SW 6th Avenue near Stark Street for those who know the Rose City. The sidewalks of downtown are brick, not the most fun thing to do a face plant on. But that is what I see, there is a W/M/A in his mid-thirties bleeding from the scalp, nose and mouth from doing a face plant. It is right in front of a camera store and a woman who works there has brought out some paper towels and is applying them to his scalp wound without any barriers on. A second woman is standing there talking to the patient assessing his consciousness level. Again, she isn't gloved up.

The woman from the camera store walks back in to call 911 as I walk up and ask if I can be of assistance. I have my EDC knapsack with my IFAK so I pull out gloves and offer them to the other woman who says she is a RN. She declines to touch the patient and leaves it to me. That's when I note that the patient is angry, very drunk and showing signs of full-blown AIDS. He tells me his name and confirms that he has AIDS. That's why he is drunk and mad at the world, he says his life is over. So not only do I have to worry about bloodborne pathogens but I have the chance this guy could decide to turn combative.

Instead of getting tactical I talk about my experience with melanoma. How I thought I had a death sentence at first but beat it and am still fighting it. (That reminds me that I have to schedule an appointment with my dermatologist for my annual check up.) I spoke to him about how I appreciate the time I have left, however long that is, and each day is a gift. He went from angry drunk to weepy drunk, thanking me for caring for him. He was so sorry about being drunk and stupid. About that time Portland Fire showed up and I advise the EMT's of the patient's warning. They thank me and I use their biohazard bag for my gloves and wash up.

My next task is to go into the camera shop to find the woman who first treated the patient. The lady without any barriers and inform her of her possible exposure and what to do about it. She was a wife and mother of two who cried at hearing that the blood that had gotten all over her hands and onto her dress was contaminated. I reassured her of the low risk of infection from exposure to HIV when there were no open breaks on the skin. Also the need to get proper testing for HIV. It reinforced my dedication to carrying and using PPE's.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Kabong30 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:36 am

PPE is short for?
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by shrapnel » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:14 pm

Personal protective equipment. If not that exact wording, that's essentially the point.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:34 pm

It usually consists of gloves, masks, and things like that; but depending on what subforum you're on can mean pistols, condoms, dental dams, epi pens, trunk guns, glucose tablets, spermicidal jelly, a hidden roll of cash, passports, blank checks, and katanas.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Drackar » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:56 pm

You forgot your lawyers contact card and MACE there.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Wildeman_13 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:04 pm

Kinda off topic, but the reason his helmet was no longer on his head after the crash, was prolly due to him not putting it on right. I ran into a number of people both in AZ and here in CA that tend to wear their chin straps loose. The way you see skateboarders wearing them or even Hockey players. For some reason, people think that having it on your head is the important part. Umm. no. KEEPING it on your head is the important part. Anyways... glad to hear you dodged that bullet. Note to self, put more gloves in FAK.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Rockyota » Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:18 am

It sure is nice to see that many people have had similar situations and have made a dedication to keep their PPE on hand. Good work fellow ZSers!

Yeah... with regard to the helmet, I did check it before sending it to the hospital. The chinstrap appeared tight, which makes me believe it was possibly the wrong size. However that is pure speculation on my part, as I don't know much about helmets. (Unless were talking Kevler, in which case I'm an expert: They are heavy and suck!)
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Wildeman_13 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:25 pm

If the chin strap was still connected and the helmet itself wasn't split, then it was most likely the wrong size. I'm also assuming it was a 1/2 or maybe 3/4 and not a full face. My full face helmet would be hard pressed to come off even without the chin strap as they are designed to be worn very snug. We've all seen riders with their cheeks squished up... so you know what I mean. I have seen helmets that have split in half from impact and the rider survived. They were not happy campers for a bit, but they lived.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by JTNieman » Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:34 pm

So did you alert the residents who rendered first aid?

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Rockyota » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:37 am

Maybe someone with a medical background can answer the legalities involved in that. I dont know if, as a first responder, I can roll over there a couple days later, knock on the door and say, "Hey... you know that guy whose blood you were bathing in is HIV+? Cool now you know, peace out!"

Can anyone enlighten us on that?
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by JTNieman » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:47 am

Rockyota wrote:Maybe someone with a medical background can answer the legalities involved in that. I dont know if, as a first responder, I can roll over there a couple days later, knock on the door and say, "Hey... you know that guy whose blood you were bathing in is HIV+? Cool now you know, peace out!"

Can anyone enlighten us on that?
Yea, that was my main reason for inquiring. I don't know poop about HIPAA. This situation, though, seems like you shouldn't refrain from informing people about the risk.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by AZMedic » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:06 pm

I do not know for 100% certainty but, if they helped in the care then you can pass on any information that would help to protect the responders.

Remember you generally have to have a face/name to commit a hippa violation or something to that nature. Keep demographics out of the convo and your ok.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Wildeman_13 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:21 pm

I think AZMedic is correct here. I am not a HIPPA expert, but all my HIPPA exposure/training says if there is no name or other discernable means of identifying the person, you are safe. You may want to CYA and ask them if they personally knew the guy who got hurt. If so, have them go talk to the guy or his family. If they do not, then you can tell them that the individual involved in the crash was determined to be HIV+ and that they should contact their doctor to begin whatever checks are required for their own piece of mind. Stress that! They most likely did not catch anything as long as they didn't have open cuts or rub the guys blood on their eyes or mouth. They might stress over it for a few months, but in the end they should be fine.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by JTNieman » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:24 pm

I'm glad to hear that.

I would think it would be a complete tragedy if you were unable to, or at least pressured not to, inform good Samaritans of such a danger to their life and health, which might delay their own diagnosis until far down the line.

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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Bonecrusher Doc » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:55 pm

I think that's basically what Public Health nurses do... like when someone is diagnosed with an STD, they track down all their sexual partners to tell them to get tested.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by squinty » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:02 pm

Rockyota wrote:Maybe someone with a medical background can answer the legalities involved in that. I dont know if, as a first responder, I can roll over there a couple days later, knock on the door and say, "Hey... you know that guy whose blood you were bathing in is HIV+? Cool now you know, peace out!"

Can anyone enlighten us on that?
I'm pretty sure that HIPPA prevents any medical/healthcare personnel from revealing that information. That may include police - most police around here are also EMT-Basics.

As far as I am concerned, just assume all blood is contaminated with everything, just like all guns are loaded. If you touched blood, assume you touched HIV, Hep B, or some other blood borne pathogen, and act accordingly.

I've worked for years as a phlebotomist, and it always amused me when somebody took me aside and whispered "careful, that patient's HIV positive!" I appreciate them wanting to look out, but I always wondered what they expected me to do differently because of that knowledge. We already take universal precautions because you just can't know, for certain, about any patient, that they don't have some blood borne pathogen.

So just advise people who were exposed to someone else's blood about their need to follow up with SUDS testing and hepatitis screening and such, regardless of any information you have or don't have about the source of that blood.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by AZMedic » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:31 pm

If you had contact with that patient as a responder then everyone is allowed to know the communicable disease information.

The hospitals call my company to let us know to get tested if they discover the pt had something that could harm us.
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Re: Always wear your PPE

Post by Banka87 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:37 pm

This right here is one of the few things that really scare me.
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