Articles by Day: June 17, 2011
A recent study of Seattle-area firehouses by University of Washington researchers found that the stubborn MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to severe infections, can be transmitted by fire station personnel. MRSA is associated with approximately 19,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because fire personnel interact with both hospitals and the population in general, the MRSA bacteria can be carried between the two.
The study, published in the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, indicates that the MRSA bacteria is found most “in the medic trucks, kitchens, and other areas such as computer keyboards and computer desks.” Medic trucks were the most common area.
Researchers aimed to determine whether the MRSA strains were related to hospital or community strains. Their conclusion: both types can contaminate fire station surfaces.
As a result of this study, the Emergency Management and Response – Information Sharing and Analysis Center has provided a list of recommendations to protect responding personnel from a potentially serious or life-threatening infection.
What to Do:
- Utilize cleaning agents correctly.
- Filter air in stations.
- Confine turnout gear to work areas.
- Reduce the risk of carrying MRSA home by leaving station wear at the station and wash after use.
- Install disinfectant hand gel dispensers at key points between bays and the station. Or install sinks in apparatus bays.
- Have 9-1-1 dispatchers ask if anyone has flu-like symptoms, then wear masks, goggles and gloves when entering a home.
- Replace cloth surfaces with hard surfaces wherever possible.
- Do not share hand towels.
For a complete list of suggestions: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/infograms/23_11.pdf