Safety First: Biological Safety


Take any course on first aid and you’ll learn you have to focus on the ‘ABC’s’ (Airway, Breathing and Circulation).  However, before you do any ABCing - you have to make sure that you are safe.

To a paramedic ‘being safe’ normally means making sure that no one (or thing) is about to beat you up, run you over or bite you; this is called ‘scene safety’.  But long before you even arrive on scene you need to be thinking of your biological safety.  More people have probably been killed by bacteria and viruses than in all our wars put together.

In order to ensure our biological safety we have to isolate ourselves from the substances that our patients produce.  This is called taking ‘body substance isolation’ precautions, or BSI for short.

Paramedicine is messy (check out the picture above again) and you never know what your about to walk into, so before every call we put on gloves and goggles.  Wear these on every call!  If you want to, you can always take them off later if you don’t need them, but you’ll be wasting valuable time if you have to put them on in the middle of a call when the blood is flying.

You should also have N95 masks and waterproof aprons as well as  portable alcohol based disinfectant gel.

Know your gear and use it.  Now you’re ready to get get out of your ambulance and start walking towards the call.  What should you be thinking about as you do that? ...

Study Notes:

  1. 1.The word ‘Safety’ in ‘Safety FIRST GET 1° & 2° ABCDs’ stands for biological safety.  It reminds you to put on your BSI.

  2. 2.BSI stands for body substance isolation.  It means the gloves, gowns, masks an other objects we use to protect ourselves from our patients blood, vomit, feces, saliva and other substances.

  3. 3.Wear your gloves and goggles going into every call. 

  4. 4.Have extra equipment available (masks, aprons, disinfectant, etc.) and know when, and how, to use them.

Better safe than sorry.

Biological Safety:
Wear your BSI


“Safety First” ... Table of Contents

Safety    Use your BSI - Biological Safety

              F is for Fire - Scene Safety

I                 I is for Incident: MOI/NOI          

R                Determine the numbeR of patients

S                Send for help

T                Trauma to the C-spine?

G                General impression of the patient

E                Estimate LOAs

T                Threats to you or your patient?

1°A             1° Airway

1°B             1° Breathing

1°C             1° Circulation

1°D             1° Decision

2°A             2° Airway

2°B             2° Breathing

2°C             2° Circulation

2°D             2° Decision