Information updated 04/02/20
1. What kind of protective equipment should law enforcement officers use?
First District Health Unit recommends at minimum a surgical mask, disposable gloves, and goggles or a face shield for law enforcement who respond to medical calls. CDC's What Law Enforcement Personnel Need to Know About Coronavirus recommends that law enforcement maintain a distance of 6’ and have trained medical personnel assess and transport anyone who may have COVID-19.
2. What are the different types of protective masks, and when should each be used?
The two primary types of protective masks are N95 masks and surgical masks. N95 masks, also called N95 respirators, are designed to filter out 95% of contaminants from the air. In order to do that, the wearer must be fit-tested with the mask on to ensure the correct mask size, fit and use. Certain medical conditions, facial hair, and other considerations may prevent some people from using an N95 mask. For protection against COVID-19, N95 masks are recommended for medical professionals who are performing aerosolizing procedures or intubating patients. Surgical masks are generally sufficient for most other situations. Procedure masks and face masks are the same as surgical masks. You can learn more from this fact sheet and video.
3. Do I need to be fit tested?
People who use an N95 mask and perform aerosolizing procedures need to be fit tested. If you are not a direct care provider, you can use an N95 mask without fit-testing. It will provide a level of protection between that of a fit-tested mask and a surgical mask. You do not need to be fit-tested to use a surgical mask.
4. What can an agency do to protect their officers?
- Establish protective protocols for medical calls. Examples are not responding on medical calls, having ambulance personnel assess and transport all patients with law enforcement personnel on site for back-up only, etc.
- Establish protective protocols for non-medical calls.
5. How do I put on and take off protective equipment to prevent contamination?
Putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) protective equipment must be done in a way that does not contaminate the equipment before use, and does not spread contamination during removal. How to Properly Put on or Take off a Disposable Respirator gives donning and doffing guidance from the CDC. A short demonstration video can be found here.
6. I already have N95 masks but I really only need surgical masks. Now what?
If you have an adequate supply of surgical masks, you can donate your N95 masks to a medical facility. If you prefer, N95 masks can be used in place of surgical masks without fit testing.