2021 is coming to a close, and as we get ready to ring in the new year with a ball drop and the toasting of champagne glasses, it’s also important to chart out some new goals for EMS preparedness — as well as double down on some best practices.
Embracing the New Year’s spirit, we’ve come up with a list of resolutions to help you and your team ensure optimal safety, performance and efficiency in emergency practices and equipment use, and navigate a host of new emergency scenarios in 2022 and in the years to come.
Your team’s EMS resolutions for 2022 should include:
Testing All Equipment and Batteries
Dead equipment is useless to both you and your patients, and relying on improperly charged devices can worsen emergency situations, putting your patients’ lives at further risk and slowing down treatment procedures. To avoid this, your team should continually test the function and battery power of items such as suction units, defibrillators and pulse oximeters by performing checks at regular intervals as part of your morning and evening checkout routine.
Checking Oxygen Tanks
Poor maintenance and incorrect handling of oxygen tanks can present hazards to both staff and patients. Your team must regularly examine all oxygen delivery systems for leaks, cleanliness and system integrity. When examining, replacing and refilling your team’s oxygen tanks, remember that an adequate supply of oxygen must always be available at the beginning of or during a shift or ambulance call. The amount of oxygen used during a shift should be documented on a patient care report, and a vehicle with low amounts of oxygen remaining should be considered out of service until restocked.
Deep Cleaning Your Emergency Vehicle
It’s also critical that you deep clean your ambulance or emergency vehicle on a daily basis to ensure the continued health and safety of all patients, paramedics and EMTs who come in contact with the vehicle. Your cleaning should include thoroughly brushing the vehicle’s exterior with soap and water, as well as decontaminating the seats and floor inside using disinfectant sprays. You should also focus heavily on disinfecting the vehicle’s door handles and radio microphone, as these are the features most frequently touched by paramedics and EMTs. Lastly, be sure to clean all stretchers — including stretcher straps and linens — used for the everyday transport of patients.
Performing Lingering Vehicle Maintenance Tasks
Staying on top of preventative vehicle maintenance in the new year will help you transport your patients more safely and efficiently, and ultimately increase the lifespan of your vehicle. Some common items to include in a preventative maintenance checklist are:
- Engine oil
- Oil filters
- Engine coolant/antifreeze
- Windshield wipers
Checking the Contents of Your ‘First-in’ Bag
Regularly checking and updating the contents of your first-in bag is critical for preparing for airway emergencies. All EMS first-in bags should include the following:
- Portable suction device
- Pulse oximeter
- Nasopharyngeal (NPA) and Oropharyngeal (OPA) airways
- Bag-valve mask
- Endotracheal tube
- Endotracheal tube introducer
- End tidal carbon dioxide monitor
- Supraglottic airway device
Taking Inventory & Maintaining Supplies
Your team should aim to complete weekly inventories to stay on top of equipment, cleanliness and safety at all times. To maintain the health of equipment and avoid contamination after each use, remember to practice the following measures:
- Discard disposable equipment parts
- Follow necessary guidelines for disposing of bio-hazardous materials
- Clean suction units with mild detergent or a mixture of bleach and water, rinsing thoroughly
- Follow the instruction manual for disinfecting mechanics
- Never reuse disposable parts
- Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face and eye protection and protective clothing when handling contaminated equipment
- Keep documentation when supplies are added or used to maintain an accurate inventory count
Fulfilling Training Requirements
Completing ongoing training is imperative for EMS teams, as medicine is constantly changing and it’s important for medical personnel at all levels to brush up on their skills from time to time. Below are some of the training modules recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national standards for continuing education for paramedics and EMTs:
- Preparatory (illness and injury prevention)
- Airway management and intervention
- Patient assessment
Paramedics and EMTs encounter new obstacles every day, and as we approach 2022, it’s vital that EMS teams remain prepared for patient challenges, maintenance tasks and equipment updates and replacements. To gain some more inspiration for your team’s emergency preparedness resolutions for 2022, check out SSCOR’s EMS products.