COVID-19 FAQ for Designated Infection Control Officers
This page will highlight some of the most frequently asked questions. Everything in this FAQ may be found in greater detail within the CDC documents. It is especially important that the DICO refer constantly to these guidance documents from the CDC. Links to these documents are contained within this FAQ and are identified by the term IMPORTANT LINK.
What are important considerations for a DICO regarding covid?
Does the Ryan White Act cover covid?
- Covid 19 is the disease that results from the virus SARS-COV-2. As with any infectious disease, the DICO should be mindful of the following:
- Understand your overall responsibilities for the safety of your personnel.
- Have an infection control plan that meets federal and state regulatory requirements and is available to, and understood by, your personnel.
- Make sure your agency is providing the appropriate PPE. Make sure your personnel are fit tested for PPE when required. Make sure your personnel understand how to correctly don, wear and doff all PPE. Make sure your plan describes when to wear what specific PPE.
- Provide all EMS personnel with job- or task-specific education and training on preventing transmission of infectious agents, including refresher training.
- Make sure your plan describes the appropriate cleaning steps to take. Make sure the appropriate cleaning supplies are available.
- Establish or confirm a personal relationship with the infection control specialists at your receiving facilities.
- Establish or confirm a personal relationship with your local health department. They will be your best ally.
- Develop a return to duty policy that is consistent with public health guidelines.
Do my personnel need N95 protection?
- Yes. In March of 2020, covid was specifically listed as a disease which is covered by the Ryan White Act and requires notification by a receiving facility to the agency’s DICO.
Are there times that an N95 is required?
- Yes. The CDC guidance is clear. “EMS personnel who will directly care for a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection or who will be in the compartment with the patient should adhere to Standard Precautions and use a NIOSH-approved N95 or equivalent or higher-level respirator (or facemask if a respirator is not available), gown, gloves, and eye protection” CDC recognizes that there may be difficulty obtaining PPE and allow facemask “if the N95 is not available”. See next section for limitations.
Are we required to fit test our personnel for N95 respirators?
- Yes. The above allowance for facemasks in place of N95s does not apply to certain scenarios. From the guidance: “N95 respirators or respirators that offer an equivalent or higher level of protection should be used instead of a facemask when performing or present for an aerosol generating procedure” Examples of aerosol generating procedures include but are not limited to: CPR, use of BVM, any airway placement, nebulizer treatments, CPAP. In these cases, N95 are required.
Is there a CDC document that covers PPE, cleaning, and other guidance?
- Yes. EMS agencies must “ensure EMS personnel are medically cleared, trained, and fit tested for respiratory protection device use (e.g., N95 filtering facepiece respirator), or medically cleared and trained in the use of an alternative respiratory protection device (e.g., loose fitting powered air-purifying respirator, PAPR) whenever respirators are required.” If you allow a person to wear an N95 that has not been fit tested, you as the DICO are placing that person at grave risk. You are responsible for their safety. Do not shirk this responsibility.
What are some general considerations for the station?
- Yes, and if you read nothing else on covid, read this:
What are some general considerations for scene responses?
- Limit visitors. Screen all visitors for fever or other symptoms.
- Screen all personnel at the start of the shift for fever or other covid symptoms
- Practice distancing at the station and wearing of face coverings.
- Minimize any in person classes or meetings.
- Encourage good hand hygiene.
Are there other documents or websites that I should read or visit?
- Limit the number of personnel on an ambulance to minimize exposure.
- Practice universal source control. Every patient should wear a face covering.
- Use your ambulance’s patient compartment exhaust vent. This is an often-overlooked form of protection against disease transmission.
COVID-19 Infomation for Instructors
- Yes, the following links contain important information for the DICO:
Below is the VAVRS Training Program COVID-19 Reopening Chart.
We are currently in Phase 3 of Training Program COVID-19 Reopening.