Personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn to minimize cross-contamination risks and ensure safety from hazards. It includes an array of clothing items as well as specific gear designed to help protect against biohazards and chemical, physical, mechanical, and radiological hazards.
When talking about PPE in terms of CPR, we mainly refer to protection from biological contamination. Given that about 350.000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals every year in the US, it’s evident that both the need for help and the risks while giving it are high.
During CPR, direct contact is unavoidable. Therefore, PPE items are essential to help shield both the one giving CPR and the person receiving it.
What is a CPR face shield and mouth piece? Below, we’ll go over types of gloves that should be used, the significance of having a waste bag on hand, and more. We’re also going to explore other essential items that should accompany PEE in a first-aid kit.
CPR and the Dangers of Bodily Fluids and Airborne Particles
Given that CPR is an emergency response required in unpredictable situations, it’s best to always be prepared to protect yourself, especially in a time when airborne viruses are rampant. This preparation includes personal protection equipment that’s been specifically designed for these types of hazards.
Here are the two main hazards you need to protect yourself from when giving CPR:
Whether it’s blood, saliva, mucous, respiratory secretions, or another bodily fluid, exposing yourself to one is always dangerous.
No matter if the person you are helping has a visible injury or not, potential exposure while administering CPR is always possible. Your bare skin, whether on your hands, face, or mouth, should never be in direct contact with the skin of the other person.
Exposure to airborne particles, like viruses, is especially possible when giving rescue breathing. Although not recommended in regular CPR anymore, mouth-to-mouth is still necessary when helping specific groups of people, like pregnant women or infants.
Protection is essential for the person giving CPR, but even more so for the one receiving it.
CPR PPE: Items to Make Space for in Your First Aid Kit
To make sure you are always geared up and ready, your first-aid kit will need to contain a few essential PPE items. These items are simple to acquire, easy to use, and are tremendously helpful in all CPR-related scenarios.
Hospitals, nursing homes, and many other facilities use PPE on a daily basis, so it’s important to get items of the same quality. Anything else may pose a further threat instead of offering protection.
Here are the 5 PPE essentials:
So, what is a CPR face shield and mouth piece? These two items are considered first-aid-kit staples – learning how to use them correctly will make all the difference in your personal safety while administering CPR.
Designed to protect from both bodily fluids and airborne particles, these two items fall into the category of face coverings. Maintaining proper oxygenation is the essence of CPR, which can require close-contact resuscitation, making face-covering PPE a must.
Mouth coverings, or mouth pieces, act as a safety barrier between the wearer and the other person (mouth-to-mask). They’re designed to prevent any bodily fluids or breath from reaching the wearer while also allowing them to administer proper CPR.
These masks are not like the ones required during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, they’re usually made of medical-grade silicone and feature a filter and a one-way valve. The one-way valve is responsible for maintaining the one-way ventilation, while the filter acts as viral and bacterial protectant.
These masks are usually latex-free to accommodate latex allergies, although it is good to make sure whether they are beforehand. They come in a pocket-size version, which is suitable for carrying around.
To use the mask, place it over the mouth and nose of the receiver and administer the necessary breaths. The masks are designed to allow you to take a breath without having to remove them, so feel free to inhale between breaths.
A face shield is a barrier device used to protect the wearer from the sudden splatter of blood, mucous, or other bodily fluid. They usually fasten around the head from the very top to under the chin.
A face shield shouldn’t be worn while attempting to give mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose. Instead, it’s helpful while administering chest compressions, especially when helping drowning victims, drug overdose victims, and other people that may suddenly start coughing out fluids and secretions.
Medical-grade gloves should always be worn while giving CPR, even if you’re just touching a person’s clothing. Medical emergencies are unpredictable events, so you want to be ready for anything.
Gloves usually come in three materials: latex, nitrile, and vinyl. On the inside, they can be powdered or unpowdered. The powder helps you put the gloves on. Because of latex allergies, nitrile and vinyl gloves are best to have.
It’s important to remember that these gloves are single-use products, meaning that you’ll need to dispose of them once you’re done. You should also never use the same pair of gloves to help multiple people – this’ll only cause cross-contamination.
Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizers are a quick, water-free way of making sure your hands are clean and disinfected. They can also be used on multiple areas of the body that need to be cleansed quickly.
Your sanitizer should contain at least 60% of alcohol to ensure maximal protection from bacteria. To accommodate allergies and prevent irritation, the sanitizer should be unscented and without additions like vitamins or oils. As such, it’s best to get a type of sanitizer used in medical facilities.
Paper Towels & Waste Bags
Paper towels are a great way of making sure any hazardous materials are soaked up and properly disposed of. They can also provide increased visibility to an area when needed. Paper towels can effectively help stop bleeding as well.
To keep them clean, make sure your paper towels are stored properly. We also advise you to avoid any unscented paper towels – a regular old pack of unscented white ones will do.
A waste bag should be able to be closed off completely and big enough to encase gloves, paper towels, and any other single-use items used during CPR. Avoid paper bags, and instead, stick with ones made of plastic or other impermeable materials.
You should always have multiple waste bags on hand to be able to accommodate a situation of any severity.
When it’s time for you to remove any PPE items, always start with your gloves and dispose of them. Then, remove your face shield and any other body coverings you may be wearing. If you’re wearing a regular face mask, remove it last.
Even though your one-way valve mask is reusable, it should be properly cleaned and stored away. Make sure to place it in a separate waste bag alongside your face shield. It’s important to remember that the valves on these masks are single-use, which means you should switch them quickly.
First Aid Kit: Other Useful Things to Include
Aside from personal protective equipment (PPE), your first-aid kit needs to include a variety of other medical items as well. These items will allow you to safely and effectively administer first aid in any situation.
These are some of the essential items you should have:
- Gauze roll
- Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
- One-use packets or a container of antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Emergency blanket
- Instant cold compress
- Sterile gauze pads
- Aspirin and other essential medication
- Non-glass oral thermometer without mercury
- Hydrocortisone ointment
- Emergency first aid instructions manual
You should always have a first-aid kit in your car or know where to find one. On travels, like camping trips and hikes, you should carry a first-aid kit with you. You also need to check your kits regularly to make sure nothing is past its due date and needs to be replaced.
Personal Safety in CPR: Conclusion
Personal safety while administering CPR is an essential part of any situation that calls for an emergency response and infection control. Hazards like airway secretions can often be invisible to the human eye, which makes them all the more dangerous.
No matter what the situation is, you should always make sure to wear your PPE and dispose of or store it correctly after use.
All of these items can be purchased separately or as part of a pre-made first-aid kit. You should always make sure your items are medical-grade, made of the proper materials, and bought from reputable sellers.