Emergency services workers, including emergency medical services personnel (EMS), ambulance technicians, and first responders, play a crucial role in responding to emergency situations, including natural disasters, accidents, and medical emergencies. In these situations, it is essential that they are well-equipped with the right gear, including gloves. Choosing the right gloves can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of emergency services workers, protecting them from exposure to harmful substances and reducing the risk of infection. Let's review what should be considered when choosing the right glove.
Evaluate The Risk
When selecting disposable gloves for use in emergency situations, it is important to evaluate the risks involved to ensure that the gloves chosen are appropriate for the specific situation. Different situations pose different risks, and choosing the wrong type of gloves can have serious consequences. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the risks before selecting disposable gloves.
- Identify the Hazard: Identify the hazards that responders may be exposed to during their duties. These could include exposure to bloodborne pathogens, hazardous chemicals, or sharp objects.
- Assess the Level of Risk: Assess the level of risk associated with each hazard. This could include the likelihood of exposure, the severity of the potential harm, and the duration of exposure.
- Identify the Required Barrier Protection: Identify the level of barrier protection required to protect against the identified hazards. Different types of gloves provide varying levels of protection.
Consider The Task
It is also important to consider the duration of use when evaluating risks. In situations where gloves will be worn for extended periods, such as during extended rescue operations or when working in a contaminated environment, gloves with enhanced breathability and comfort features should be used to reduce the risk of hand fatigue and irritation. Let's review some of the most common emergency situations where disposable gloves are needed.
- Patient Assessment and Care: When performing patient assessment and care, responders should wear gloves that provide a high level of protection against bloodborne pathogens and bodily fluids. Exam grade Nitrile gloves are the most popular option in these situations since they offer excellent barrier protection and are resistant to punctures and tears.
- Vehicle Extrication: When performing vehicle extrication, responders need gloves that provide protection against sharp objects and abrasions. Often first responders will have thicker more durable reusable gloves in these situations. If you're required to use disposable gloves you should look for Nitrile gloves with reinforced fingertips can offer added protection against punctures, tears, and cuts. If first aid is also required you should ensure that you're wearing medical grade gloves.
- Chemical Spills: When responding to a chemical spill, responders need gloves that provide protection against hazardous chemicals. Nitrile gloves are resistant to a wide range of chemicals and are the best option in most cases. If there's a risk of chemical exposure you should check our chemical resistance chart to be sure.
- Search and Rescue: When performing search and rescue operations, responders need gloves that are durable, flexible, and provide a good grip. Latex gloves are a good option as they offer good dexterity and tactile sensitivity. Latex is also considered to be one of the most comfortable materials for extended wear time.
- Decontamination: When performing decontamination procedures, responders need gloves that can be easily donned and doffed to minimize exposure to hazardous substances. Vinyl gloves are a good option as they are easy to put on and take off. They're also an economical option for jobs that need a lot of glove changes.
Consider the Patient
When First responders and emergency services personnel are performing first aid, or coming into contact with patients they need to consider any risks to the patient when selecting disposable gloves. When assessing the potential risks to the patient, the responder should consider the type of procedure they will be performing, the potential for contact with bodily fluids, and the risk of contamination or infection.
When responding to a medical emergency where there is a risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, the responder should choose gloves that offer a high level of protection, such as nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves are resistant to punctures and tears, making them less likely to fail during use and exposing the responder to the patient's bodily fluids.
In contrast, if a responder is performing a task where there is no risk of exposure to bodily fluids or other hazardous substances, they may choose to use vinyl gloves, which are a less durable but more cost-effective option.
It is also essential to consider the patient's medical history and any allergies they may have. If the patient has a known allergy to latex, the responder should avoid using latex gloves and instead choose a latex-free option such as nitrile or vinyl gloves.
Features to Consider When Choosing Disposable Gloves for Emergency Services
When it comes to choosing a disposable glove for emergency services, the material used is one of the most important factors to consider. Different materials have different properties, which can affect the level of protection, comfort, and durability of the gloves. In emergency situations, where responders may be exposed to hazardous substances or working in challenging environments, it is essential to choose the right material to ensure the gloves provide adequate protection and performance. Vinyl, Latex and Nitrile all have exam grade options for situations where medical care is needed.
Latex gloves offer good protection against biological hazards and are generally more flexible and comfortable to wear than other materials. However, some people may have allergies to latex, so it is important to consider the potential for allergic reactions when selecting gloves.
Nitrile gloves are made from synthetic rubber and offer superior resistance to chemicals, punctures, and tears. They are also less likely to cause allergic reactions than latex gloves. Nitrile gloves are an excellent choice when working with hazardous chemicals or when there is a risk of exposure to infectious diseases.
Vinyl gloves are also commonly used in emergency services, as they are less expensive than other materials. However, they are less durable than latex or nitrile gloves and are not recommended for use in high-risk situations. Vinyl gloves are generally more prone to tears or punctures, making them a better choice for short-term use, or for tasks that require a lot of glove changes.
In emergency services, gloves must be able to provide adequate protection against a wide range of hazards, while still allowing the wearer to perform tasks that require fine motor skills. Gloves that are too thick can impair movement and reduce tactile sensitivity, while gloves that are too thin may not provide enough protection against dangerous substances.
A proper fit can help prevent cross-contamination between the responder and the patient. A torn or punctured glove can cause the spread of infectious materials from the patient to the responder or vice versa. Gloves that are too tight can cause hand fatigue and restrict movement, while gloves that are too loose can slip off or bunch up, making it difficult to perform tasks effectively. Gloves that fit well allow for better dexterity, which is essential for performing intricate tasks. A proper fitting glove is not only practical, but also more comfortable for the wearer.
Powdered vs. Powder-free
Disposable gloves that are used by emergency services medical responders must be powder-free for several important reasons. Powdered gloves have a powder coating on the inside of the glove that is used to make them easier to put on and take off. However, this powder can pose several health risks to both the wearer and the patient, especially in emergency situations where time is of the essence.
Several regulatory bodies, such as the FDA and the European Union, have banned the use of powdered gloves due to the health risks they pose. This means that emergency services medical responders are required to use powder-free gloves when providing patient care.
That was a lot of information, so let's sum up what we learned. Different materials offer varying levels of protection, durability, and comfort, and it is important to choose the right material for the specific situation. Latex gloves offer good protection and are comfortable to wear, but may cause allergic reactions. Nitrile gloves offer superior protection against hazardous substances and are less likely to cause allergies. Vinyl gloves are less expensive but are less durable, so they should only be used in low-risk situations. By choosing the right glove for the job, emergency services workers can ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.