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COVID-19: How to Make Equipment Safe

An MRS Training & Rescue instructor teaching in COVID-19 PPE

Since the coronavirus pandemic took over our lives, we have all been much more aware of the importance of adhering to strict hygiene measures and social distancing.

Today it is the norm to use hand sanitiser whenever we enter a premises, touch any objects, and the wearing of facemasks has become commonplace in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

The need to ensure all personal protective equipment we use at work is also sanitised is now more important than ever.

The coronavirus is known to transmit from person to person through moist particles from breathing, coughing, and sneezing. The routes into the body can be from direct inhalation from an infected person, or indirectly through transfer from contaminated surfaces including clothing, parts of the body, and other items such as equipment. 

This has meant that as part of the new guidelines we are following, the way we handle, use and store personal protective equipment for both training courses and rescue cover has changed to ensure we keep our colleagues and customers safe during the pandemic.

PPE Kits for Training Courses – What to Expect

Even before the coronavirus consumed our lives, candidates who attended many of our training courses brought their own, clean PPE including safety helmet, full-length overalls, hand protection and eye protection. This has always been necessary as most of our courses include practical training outside the classroom.

Facemasks & Gloves

However, as part of our new COVID-19 guidelines and risk assessments, we now supply some additional COVID-19 PPE for all delegates. This is primarily packaged medical facemasks and nitrile (powder free) disposable gloves.

Our instructors and candidates are required to wear medical grade facemasks where it is not possible to achieve a 2 metre social distance when attending our training courses. This generally occurs when completing some of our practical exercises. Facemasks ensure the safety of all those involved.

Nitrile disposable gloves are worn for specific parts of the training only to avoid any skin to skin contact - and candidates are encouraged to change them regularly or as required.

Facemasks and nitrile disposable gloves for delegates on a desk

Training Manikins

To minimise person to person contact, and reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus, we now use training manikins for assisted rescue training, that act as a casualty in a mock rescue situation

The manikins are weighted to make them feel like a real person – to create very realistic training and rescue scenarios. The manikin and its overalls are always cleaned thoroughly after each use. We use safety manikins for many of our confined space and work at height training courses.

We also now use manikins, rather than real people, for delegates to practise their first aid skills on, such as applying bandages and fitting a sling. Manikins are also used for CPR practice on a 1:1 delegate to manikin ratio and personal resuscitation mannikin face shields provided are also used.

Working at Height exercise with a manikin for mock emergency training

Safety Equipment

We understand the need to keep everyone safe and so when you attend any of our training courses, we now provide all delegates with their safety PPE for their use only whilst training with us. We have purchased additional supplies including rope access equipment like harnesses, fall arrest, fall restraint, and we ensure all is thoroughly cleaned before used to minimise the risk of transfer.

Breathing Apparatus

Just like the PPE we use on our training courses, breathing apparatus (BA) will also never be shared amongst delegates. Again, we have increased the amount of equipment available to avoid the need to share. All delegates will be given their own personal escape set during practical exercises.

Individual sanitised breathing apparatus and PPE equipment

First Aid Equipment

As well as the use of manikins as detailed above, all delegates attending any first aid training with us are now given their own personal equipment to use during the course. It is provided in a pre-packed plastic bag which contains:

  • Sanitised resuscitation mannikin face
  • New mannikin lung
  • New triangular bandage
  • New resuscitation aid (face shield)
  • New large wound dressing
     

How PPE Hygiene Methods Have Changed

One of the primary ways to minimise coronavirus spread is by adopting stringent hygiene measures. We have reinforced our cleaning procedures as part of our new coronavirus working practices, to reduce the risk of transfer of COVID. Now, at the end of each day, each item of BA and PPE is repacked into its own bag by the wearer which is then placed into a further disposable bag and tied off. Likewise, if we have issued any other PPE, the trainer, wearing disposable gloves, will place it into disposable bags. All are then thoroughly deep cleaned following our strict cleaning regime.  

Any disposable equipment we use on our courses, such first aid equipment like slings and bandages, are disposed of after use.

COVID-19 Rescue Cover Safety PPE

We have developed a series of operational standards and procedures which all our teams follow relating to COVID-19 when undertaking any confined space or work at height rescue cover.

With regards to PPE used this includes:

  • Wearing disposable nitrile gloves on site at all times - supplemented by other hand protection where required by risk assessment
  • Routine cleaning of equipment on site following use or pre-use checks (e.g. radios, gas monitors, BA, etc)
  • Any used breathing apparatus, oxygen resuscitator, analgesic gas or other equipment potentially contaminated with moist droplets emitted from someone will be withdrawn by the individual wearer (where applicable), placed into its own bag and then placed into a disposable bag which will be tied off
     

An emergency rescue team following COVID-19 Rescue Cover Safety procedures

Whilst we aim to follow social distancing, we accept it is not always possible. If we are unable to keep 2m apart we will ensure respirators (minimum standard FFP2) and eye protection will be worn by our rescue teams unless they are already wearing an open or close circuit breathing apparatus.

To learn more about the COVID-19 safety and hygiene measures we have introduced at our training centres, read our ‘How We Made our Training Courses COVID-19 Safe’ blog post.

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