C.K. Scarborough، نويسنده , , L.D. Doell، نويسنده ,
ISSUE: Individuals in our community who require safe emergency transport need public safety workers who are appropriately trained to avoid bloodborne pathogen exposures. Firefighters who are inadequately trained could serve as a source of transmissible illnesses to patients, hospital staff or other community members. The Viral Hepatitis Board reports that when rescue efforts are conducted in confined areas with poor lighting, an increased risk of exposure to blood and other body fluids exists. According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the hepatitis B infection prevalence rate for firefighters in 2002 was 2.7.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends that emergency personnel who respond to potentially hazardous disasters need additional training and updated safety guidelines to ensure their protection. In 2005, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) recorded deaths of firefighters as a result of occupational exposure to hepatitis C.
PROJECT: Our community fire department is composed of over 250 firefighters trained as emergency medical technicians with 100 of these also trained as paramedics. Our infection control and prevention department reached outside our hospital to partner with fire department staff to reduce the risk of bloodborne pathogen exposures such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), pandemic illnesses or biological threats by providing infection control and prevention training to new department trainees. After a needʹs assessment was conducted, a customized training program was designed using evidence-based practice to address the identified knowledge deficits. Subsequent classes were revised using comments and information obtained from ongoing needsʹ assessments.
RESULTS: The infection control and prevention nurse presented classes to the fire departmentʹs new trainees from June 2004 through July 2005. During this period, no new needle stick injuries were identified, and other bloodborne pathogen exposures were significantly reduced. Senior leaders at the fire department, who monitored the project results, called the collaboration beneficial to everyone involved. This collaboration resulted in the fire department educator attending the joint county/hospital homeland security task force.
LESSONS LEARNED: Infection control and prevention applies across the continuum of care and should be utilized to improve processes used by public health workers. Infection control professionals should seek new partnerships to extend their expertise into protecting the community as a whole. Using a needs assessment, customized infection control and prevention programs can be designed to fit a wide-range of community needs including the reduction of bloodborne pathogen exposures for firefighters.