In the field of EMS, maintenance is critical. Our trucks must be kept in good working order, our drugs must be up to date, and even our knowledge base must be tweaked regularly to ensure we keep up with new trends in the field and keep our skills sharp.
Checklists are a great way of ensuring nothing is skipped. Weekly truck checkouts ensure our rigs are safe and functional, daily logs enable us to account for each piece of equipment, and drug inventories remind us to remove expired meds from our inventory. Checklists promote thorough accountability.
But what about our portable suction units? Do we have a checklist for those? As one of the most vital pieces of equipment in our ALS assemblage, if we don’t have a suction maintenance checklist, it’s time we create one. A suction unit checklist should cover three primary areas:
1. Before the Call
Equipment readiness is vital to the success of patient care. Here are several items that should be part of your pre-event suction checklist:
- Batteries charged
- Batteries in good working order
- Replacement batteries on hand
- The suction unit is clean
- The suction unit is operable
- Extra catheters are on hand
2. During the Call
The portable suction unit should be incorporated into your ALS assemblage. That means ensuring someone is designated to grab the unit when you arrive on the scene. Having a well-coordinated team means that everyone knows his or her responsibilities before arrival, which will ensure smooth operations on every emergency call.
3. After the Call
A thorough suction maintenance checklist will ensure the unit is returned to service once it’s been used. The after-call portion of the checklist should include:
- Cleaning the unit
- Use of proper disinfectant (follow the manufacturer’s guidelines)
- All disposables have been replaced
- Cleaning both the interior and exterior of the unit
- Unit is restocked
- Machine readiness
- Batteries charged
- Batteries replaced if necessary
- The unit returned to the truck
- Replace with the backup unit when necessary
EMS professionals have a lot of responsibility, both on-scene and off. And one of your most important responsibilities is ensuring every piece of equipment is functional and available. Your portable suction unit is a vital tool, so employ a maintenance checklist to ensure it’s always ready.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in May, 2017. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.