First Responders

First Responders

Safety Considerations in First Responder Emergency Calls

First Responders are the first on the scene of an emergency and may face challenging and dangerous situations. They typically include professionals working in Fire and Rescue Services, Emergency medical services (EMS) and Law Enforcement.

The economic costs of firefighter injuries in the U.S. are estimated to range between $1.6 billion and $5.9 billion annually(1), indicating the need to implement risk reduction efforts to prevent loss of productivity and diminished quality of life. First Responders demand and deserve the best possible protection available to feel confident to prepare to respond on every call.

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The risks and threats among First Responders vary widely and require proper risk assessments, key safety protocols, training programs and use of the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent injuries. In a NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) study from 2018, firefighters had over 47,000 exposures to hazardous materials such as asbestos, chemicals and fumes with risk for chronic illnesses(2). Other first responder work-related risks such as cut, puncture or even skin abrasion by a sharp object (needles, razor blades or broken glass) can occur when searching an arrestee’s clothing, investigating a crime scene or responding to a car accident. A cut injury increases the risk for bloodborne pathogen infections, which are especially common for EMS when providing pre-hospital emergency medical care. A potentially fatal scenario for all First Responders is a hazardous event with chemical warfare agents involved.

Ansell Solutions

Whether gas, liquid or solid, chemicals vary in form and concentration. During a chemical accident different emergency scenarios can occur such as leakage (on land or water), fire or even explosion, exposing both people and environment for hazardous risks. First Responders must be prepared for the worst and use appropriate hand and body protection. Additionally, appropriate routines and equipment should be in place for effective and safe decontamination after a chemical contamination. Ansell’s industry-leading chemical protection portfolio includes solutions with varying levels of resistance against acids, organic and inorganic chemicals, and biological agents.

In case of a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) event, First Responders may face a variety of chemicals, including chemical warfare agents (CWA) and biological hazards. A common term used to describe the threats from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear agents is CBRN. This also includes Toxic Industrial Chemicals, TIC's. Such hazards necessitate well-trained and prepared HAZMAT teams with the correct choice of PPE.

First Responders are exposed to cuts through sharp objects including needles, razor blades, sharp steel edges or broken glass. These may easily occur when providing medical care to a drug victim, searching an arrestee’s clothing, investigating a crime scene or responding to a car accident.

Ansell’s cut resistant gloves are made with innovative technologies to provide outstanding cut protection with enhanced dexterity, grip and comfort. INTERCEPT™ Technology is a proprietary cut resistant yarn that provides a lighter weight and more comfortable alternative to other branded yarns. ANSELL GRIP™ Technology is a coating treatment that minimizes the force required to grip tools or materials, improving safety and productivity.

Inspections and service of fire trucks, ambulance or other emergency vehicles at a scheduled basis using tools and equipment can put hands at risk of abrasion and scratches. In addition, repeated mechanical applications in dry/oily environments such as repair of non-operable equipment may require safe grip and comfort. Even for low risk general maintenance work at a fire station, high comfort and fit can be achieved without compromising protection. Ansell‘s FORTIX™ Technology enhances the coating performance with a resilient polymer formulation to extend the working life of the glove while improving worker comfort.

First responders, law enforcement and other related professions are at a great risk of accidental drug exposure e.g. while treating a drug-addicted patient, conducting investigations or participating in tactical operations. Exposure can happen through inhalation, ingestion, mucosal, through absorption by the skin or being stuck by a needle. Drugs, illicit or legal, vary in form and effects and can harm dramatically. First responders risk severe injuries when not protected properly.

First Responders are exposed to very high physical and emotional pressure. When working for extended periods of time, risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries may occur through activities requiring repetition or use of reciprocating tools with uncomfortable grip. They may work in high temperatures, confined spaces, or areas with low visibility. Situations that require ergonomic PPE solutions for a safer working environment without compromising comfort. Gloves designed with Ansell‘s proprietary ERGOFORM™ Ergonomic Design Technology have been proven to effectively minimize discomfort from prolonged repetitive hand movements, enabling workers to work confidently and comfortably for longer.

The importance of being prepared for hazardous or pandemic incidents has never been so relevant as it is now. With increased awareness of the safety of First Responders and prevention of the spread of viral infections, the use of appropriate PPE benefits every risk assessment and enables hazardous situations to be handled with confidence and peace of mind.

As a result of COVID-19, workplaces must consider the need to protect against the spread of illness and viral infection. Ansell offers a wide range of solutions that comply with the World Health Organization’s guidance regarding infection prevention and control. In order to make an informed decision, product purchasers and users should stay abreast of the latest and most complete information regarding appropriate PPE to protect against COVID-19 and other viruses in their specific environments and applications.

When responding to a structural fire, firefighters will get exposed to extreme heat, flames and toxic gases. For that reason, full body and hand protection must be worn during the entire incident. Via the NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, firefighter protective clothing and equipment is shielded from thermal, physical and environment hazards. Ansell Ringer’s Structural Fire glove fully complies to NFPA 1971 and provides thermal and flame resistance with great fingertips flexibility and dexterity.

Tools & Resources

(1) The Economics of Firefighter Injuries in the United States, NIST Technical Note 2078, NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), U.S. Department of Commerce, (Dec 2019) (page 25 and 30)

(2) (page 1)

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