The recent flurry of activity and media stories regarding outbreak of the H1N1 influenza, also known as Swine Flu, has prompted the NH Division of Fire Safety to distribute this guideline for the fire service.
H1N1 INFLUENZA GUIDELINES FOR THE FIRE SERVICE
The H1N1 influenza strain is much like other flu viruses in the way it is transmitted. The most likely transmission method is through person to person physical contact. As such we recommend that the fire service consider the following:
- Utilize standard precaution methods during the care of patients and victims. (gloves, mask and eye protection)
- Develop procedures to require hand washing upon return to station from all calls.
- Install or distribute hand sanitizers on all apparatus.
Reduction in Force
We recommend that all departments consider the following when thinking about how a potential pandemic might affect their departments:
- Develop a contingency plan for reductions in manpower for allied forces such as utilities such as water department and other municipal organizations. What will you do if your entire water department is home sick?
- Develop a plan to increase your run card resources for additional manpower. Remember that other departments may also be in the same boat. What will you do if you call for mutual aid for that structure fire and only half of the resources show up and they only have two people per apparatus?
- Evaluate what facilities in your community might be needed for medical surge (med-surge) capacity. Will these buildings have adequate fire and life safety protection for these victims?
- Develop a procedure for conducting welfare checks. Will your firefighters be prepared to respond to a call for assistance for a deceased person who was quarantined in their home?
- Consider developing a cache of logistical supplies for your firefighters for extended operations. Do you have enough food, water and supplies in your station to sustain your operations for an extended period of time?
- Develop a succession plan for each and every function. Who will be responsible for department operations if your chief, assistant chief and deputy chief become victims and can’t lead the department?
This bulletin serves to act as a guide to prompt departments to develop a good plan for the operation of their department during an outbreak similar to this. This is not an all inclusive list of the things that need to be considered.
Those departments that practice good hygiene and who also plan properly will be better suited to serve the citizens of our great state. For more information about the H1N1 influenza, please refer to the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/guidance/