Saying it is “highly likely that more individuals infected with Ebola will seek assistance from emergency response personnel as the disease spreads,” the International Association of Fire Fighters, an AFL-CIO union that represents more than 300,000 full-time firefighters and paramedics in the United States and Canada, has posted a statement urging all of its affiliates to hold a safety stand-down and review all infectious exposure policies, procedures, and guidelines.
The detailed statement lists 11 elements that IAFF says those policies, procedures, and guidelines should at a minimum address. They include not returning to the firehouse if there is a potential exposure or the crew thinks they have been affected, developing policies for monitoring and management of EMS personnel potentially exposed to Ebola, fit testing all personnel for N95 respirators and provide them along with appropriate eye protection, and establishing sick leave policies for personnel that are “non-punitive, flexible and consistent with public health guidance.”
It also says the policies should ensure that fire and EMS personnel exposed to blood, bodily fluid, secretions, or excretions from a patient with a suspected or confirmed Ebola virus immediately:
1) Stop working and wash the affected skin surfaces with soap and water and irrigate with a large amount of water or eyewash solution.
2) Contact an occupational health supervisor for assessment and access to post-exposure management services.
3) Receive medical evaluation and follow-up care as appropriate. Medical evaluations should include fever monitoring twice daily throughout the Ebola incubation period, which is two to 21 days.