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Bulletin 7A: Mask Use by Public Safety Personnel and Others

UPDATE:  COVID-19 Bulletin 7A

Mask Use by Public Safety Personnel and Others

Based on guidance from the CDC and others, public safety should implement the following:

  • Anyone who is transported or even briefly placed in any public safety vehicle (cruisers, ambulances, etc.) will be given either a cloth face covering or a surgical mask and directed to put it on, covering both their nose and mouth.
    • Although this may not be feasible with persons under arrest, attempt to mask everyone you can without increasing your risk of contamination.
  • All EMS patients are to be given a surgical mask (also called an isolation mask). 
  • Give cloth face coverings to citizens when they enter public safety vehicles for any reason other than as patient.
    • Locally made masks must be laundered before use.
    • Work with your county EMA or public health department to obtain additional cloth and surgical masks as needed.
  • Law enforcement (LE) and EMS personnel should wear surgical masks not cloth face coverings while on duty, including while in shared areas in stations, in public, and anytime you are in your vehicle unless you are alone (or alone in the ambulance cab if it is physically separated from the patient compartment).
    • Follow extended mask use guidelines as required.  Each mask should be stored between uses in a clean paper bag or breathable container that is marked with the name of the EMS provider or LE officer.
    • Do not touch outer surfaces of the mask while working.
    • Mask removal and replacement must be done carefully and deliberately, consistent with CDC donning and doffing PPE guidelines.
    • Masks may be removed when alone in a personal workspace such as a personal office or personal bunk area.
  • EMS will continue to conform to the JITSO and only allow persons to be transported with the patient when essential to patient care.  All other requests for companion transports should be denied.  
    • Examples of companions who must be transported in EMS units include parents or guardians of minors; historians for time-critical diagnoses such as stroke; or translators when significant language barriers exist. 
    • Companions who are demonstrating infectious symptoms such as fever, cough, illness should not be transported unless being treated as an additional patient in the patient compartment.
  • Especially for LEOs, if wearing gloves, use wipes or hand sanitizer on the gloves after touching anyone or anything.
  • Thorough decontamination of the inside of all public safety vehicles should be performed frequently, and especially after any patient transport
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

Many hospitals will replace surgical masks on a one-for-one basis when bringing in a patient.

Personnel will also find that mask use for extended periods adds to the work of breathing.  When alone, take the opportunity to remove your mask and breathe freely