While the 2 dominant co-circulating viruses currently straining healthcare systems are respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza (flu), COVID-19 cases are on the rise, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that healthcare systems will likely continue to be stretched this winter. The primary concerns EMS providers will face are a hospital surge with increased demand for EMS and ensuring effective infection prevention and control measures are in place.
Dealing with the surge and demand
EMS providers should consider revisiting the 2021 article series by EMS1, Ambulances Held Hostage, which discusses all aspects of how EMS systems are impacted by hospital bed delays and strategies for reducing ambulance offload times.
Ensuring effective infection prevention
To address infection prevention and control measures, much of the guidance developed during the COVID-19 pandemic will be applicable to the surge in these other respiratory viruses. Resources for guidance on disinfection and personal protective equipment (PPE) for EMS providers include:
- CDC — Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.
- Federal Healthcare Resilience Task Force, EMS/Prehospital Team PDF — Guidance for First Responder Interactions with Suspected/Confirmed COVID-19 Patients.
- The Interagency Board for Emergency Preparedness and Response — PPE and decontamination.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of EMS — Resources to protect against infection from emerging diseases.
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