Respiratory Protection - Fit Testing

Fit testing and training in adjusting to the wearing of these masks devices is again necessary for the successful use in an emergency situation. Drills are a valuable opportunity to assess the actual wearing capability and tolerance of these devices.

Fit testing is the performance of fitting and evaluating the seal of a mask or air protective device thru measured and calibrated measurements of airseal, and exposure of an innocuous test agent. Certain face shapes, facial hair and confined space tolerance of a mask may prohibit the proper fit and seal or tolerance of some of the aforementioned respiratory protective devices. Additionally, fit testing should be renewed periodically particularly with weight changes, or alterations in facial or neck shape.

The hospital environment and emergency medical services and public safety communities will need to assess and decide who they wish to be fit tested, trained and equipped to deal with contaminated environments and victims.  Depending upon the local hazardous materials team providers may not allow for protection of healthcare personnel who are exposed to patients who self triage to the hospital environment bypassing normal decontamination procedures in the field.

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