Initial cost for custom masks for paramedics yields unexpected benefits

Custom masks for paramedics reap unexpected benefits
Custom masks for paramedics
Posted at 8:32 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 11:15:27-05

Some hospitals spent a chunk of COVID-19 disaster funds on custom-made masks for their paramedics. Even though they had the first chance to get the vaccine, the masks are for extra protection. Premier Health is betting it will make patients safer and first responders better.

“We have been taking a lot of very critical patients with advanced needs,” CareFlight Air and Mobile Flight Nurse/Paramedic Molly Nickell said.

According to Ohio EMS regulators, paramedics administered more than 45,000 Naloxone doses in 2020, more than any other year except the peak of Ohio’s opioid epidemic.

“Throughout the whole pandemic, everybody’s been... everything’s just been bleak,” said Reading Fire Dept. Chief Todd Owens.

Two days before Christmas, Reading firefighters worried less about themselves and more about becoming coronavirus carriers.

“We’re very cautious in how we manage our equipment, how we manage emergency response, how we clean up and decontaminate our equipment,” Owens said.

Emergency personnel tried P95 then p100 masks, which either didn’t fit or muffled everything nurses or pilots said. So, their bosses used COVID-19 disaster funds to buy custom-fitted masks with built-in microphones and reusable filters that last for months.

“It’s essentially the highest level of protection that a staff can have, and we also put a mask on our patients and that double-masking is actually protecting everyone,” Nickell said.

The masks also had an unexpected benefit: allowing paramedics to do their jobs with less stress.

They also boost hospital PPE supplies by allowing the N95 and p100 masks paramedics previously used to be available for nurses and other frontline staff.