By Terry Baxter, Law Enforcement and Safety Specialist
I think it is important that we repeatedly address the Coronavirus disease and the havoc it continues to place on the law enforcement and corrections communities. What a difficult time this has been for everyone, especially those on the front lines, answering the calls for service, still having to deal with the public on a one to one basis. All the things you prepare staff for to be successful in their profession and then challenges such as COVID-19 appear and impact your agencies workforce and job tasks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put information on their website addressing what first responders needed to know about Coronavirus disease. I know through conversations I have had with many of you, that you have been accessing this information regularly and implementing safe practices for your personnel, but again based on the daily COVID-19 news reports both, nationwide and by Governor Ricketts, it is essential that each day you continually ensure personnel are following and practicing the recommendations being made.
Protecting Yourself from Exposure
- If possible, maintain a distance of at least six (6) feet.
- Practice proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available and illicit drugs are not suspected to be present, us an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Have trained emergency medical services assess and transport anyone you suspect may have COVID-19 to a health care facility.
- Ensure only trained personnel wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) have contact with individuals who may have or have COVID-19.
- Know your exposure control plan and participate in all-hands training on the proper use of PPE for respiratory protection, if available.
Recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Law enforcement and correction personnel who must make contact with individuals confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 should follow the CDCâ€™s Interim Guidance for EMS.
Minimum PPE recommended:
- A single pair of disposable examination gloves.
- Disposable isolation gown or single-use disposable coveralls.
- Any NIOSH-approved particulate respirator (N-95 or higher-level respirator). Facemasks are an acceptable alternative until supply chain is restored.
- Eye protection.
- If unable to wear disposable gown or coveralls because it limits access to duty belt and gear, ensure duty belt and gear are disinfected after contact with the individual.
Contact Occurred During Apprehension
- Clean and disinfect duty belt and gear prior to reuse using a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the product label.
- Follow your agencies standard operating procedures for the containment and disposal of used PPE.
- Follow your agencies standard operating procedures for containing and laundering clothes, avoid shaking clothes.
I realize for most the information is redundant, but it still bears noting until we get back to some form of normalcy.
Remember during this time of uncertainty and until we are able to conduct on-site meetings, training, etc. you can still access our on-line courses or request a training session provided by our Loss Prevention staff through the use of Zoom.
SHOUT OUT: National Public Safety Telecommunications Week is held every year during the second week of April honoring telecommunicators in the public safety community. On behalf of NIRMA, I want to thank all of our member telecommunicators who dedicate their lives serving the public and helping to keep first responders safe.
“Confidence, courage and determined spirit are vital for surviving hard times.” – Lailah Gifty Akita