Moving through Fear. Why people, even people with training, will choose not to help someone in an emergency situation.
Having taught infection control at Loyalist college, I can assure you this is a large area of concern for many people. I speculate that there may be a more focused concern with disease transmission within city centers related to the proximity of others.
How do we protect ourselves from disease while assisting someone in a First-Aid need?
We can cite gloves, one-way-valve pocket mask, gowns and face shields. The reality is that most people will not have any of these items with them and they may significantly delay care waiting for these items to be made available.
One of the many functions of our skin is that it is a protective barrier. There are no viruses or bacteria that can pass through your skin. As long as your skin is intact, you are safe; even without gloves. In fact, no one in recorded history world wide has ever contracted anything beyond the common cold or cold sore from helping another in a First-Aid need, as long as there wasn’t a sharp instrument involved. So are you still worried about disease? If you answered yes – Good! But I hope it is now more of a concern that will motive you to take caution as opposed to a debilitating fear that will stop you from helping another in need.
If an infected body fluid went in your mouth or up your nose or in your eyes now we have a problem. These areas are lined with mucosal membrane allowing a portal or entry for viruses and bacteria. Therefore it is our faces that we should protect, from potentially infected body fluids, more than anything.
The risk of transmission is still proportionate to the size of compromise of the skin and the duration of contact. Washing a potentially contaminated site thoroughly and as quickly as possible further reduces risk.
As for mouth to mouth you either have a proper protective barrier or you don’t; there are no alternatives.
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