July 7, 2015

Beware: Poison Plants

There has been a recent spike in injury reports involving poison ivy, so we would like to share some information on how to spot it and other poison plants.

Courtesy: TreksInTheWild.com

Courtesy: Angie's List via WXTL.com

If you do come into contact with any of these plants, remember: 
     1) DON'T SCRATCH! Scratching may spread bacteria and infect the wounds
     2) wash the affected area immediately with mild soap and warm water
     3) apply a skin protectant cream or lotion that contains zinc or calamine

While this itch-inducing flora may be difficult to avoid while out on a call, most of the reported injuries occurred while mowing the station's lawn. So, keep your eyes peeled for these poisonous plants, especially if you are on yard duty at your firehouse. 

April 15, 2015

Natural Exposures

In fire fighting, a lot of emphasis is put on Hazardous Materials and the steps needed in cases of exposure. There is less emphasis on organic materials that fire fighters may be exposed to while responding to a call or even while at the station. 

There were 811 exposures reported to TCFP between April 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015. Of these 811 reports, 63 pertained to poison plants, animals/wildlife, mold, and lice. (Note: this does not include the 51 reports that were submitted as exposures to “unknown” agents.) These exposures occurred during a myriad of activities that included not only EMS response, but also fire suppression, rescue, and station duties.

Natural Exposures - click to enlarge

It may be impossible to avoid some kinds of exposure as there is no way to determine when and where duties will take you on any given day. The 63 “natural” exposures reported in the past year included poison plants (mostly poison ivy and poison oak), dog and cat bites, and insect bites (including lice, bed bugs, spiders, wasps, and bees). 

As always, it’s important to wear appropriate PPE to help prevent or minimize injury. Additionally, being aware of your surroundings and knowing the proper steps to take in case of exposure will help to reduce any reactions or symptoms. Finally, be sure to remain up to date on your medical training should the need arise.

March 18, 2015

Springtime Incidents

Spring is almost here! As the weather here in Texas warms up, more and more people will be venturing out of doors in an effort to be more active and enjoy the rising temperatures before they get too warm. Additionally, the rainy season will fast be upon us and, as a result, the amount of non-fire related incidents to respond to could also greatly increase. Below, you will see the non-fire related injuries reported to the commission between March 1, 2014 and March 1, 2015 by activity and primary apparent symptom. There were 1,602 reports submitted in total.

Injury by Activity - click to enlarge

Primary Apparent Symptom (top 10) - click to enlarge

Whether or not it is fire related, remember always to employ the department’s SOPs when responding to any incidents. Additionally, make sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times and take what measures may be needed to avoid injury to yourself and others.

February 18, 2015

Preventing Exposures

There were 811 exposures submitted to the Texas Commission on Fire Protection between February 1, 2014 and February 1, 2015. Of these exposures, 548 of them occurred while providing EMS care. While it can be difficult to prevent some exposures, there are steps that can be taken to prevent or minimize the effect of as many as possible.

·                           1) Be sure to wear all appropriate PPE required for the task at hand as stated by the department and TCFP’s requirements.
                              2) Follow departmental procedures for decontamination and clean up.
·                            3) Be aware of your surroundings and the potential hazards it may hold so that you may act accordingly.

Exposures by Activity - click to enlarge

Type of Exposure - click to enlarge