EMS worker shares preventive uses for personal protective equipment


Jonathan Chaffin, an EMS worker, posted this on our Facebook group, RV Coronavirus News.

“Okay, I’m going to give a rundown of masks, gloves, and various forms of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). I’ll say this first and foremost that I’m not here to argue. I’m simply offering my personal and professional experience from working EMS the past 12 years in urban and rural EMS services. In those 12 years, I have been in very close contact, treated, and transported patients that have been diagnosed with some of the craziest and deadliest diseases out there, and I have never tested positive. I attribute this to knowing my PPE and knowing what to use for each situation. That’s it. If you want to argue I won’t bite.

Direct from the CDC:
  • N95 respirators reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets. N95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, including large and small particles.
  • Not everyone is able to wear a respirator due to medical conditions that may be made worse when breathing through a respirator. Before using a respirator or getting fit-tested, workers must have a medical evaluation to make sure that they are able to wear a respirator safely.
  • Achieving an adequate seal to the face is essential. United States regulations require that workers undergo an annual fit test and conduct a user seal check each time the respirator is used. Workers must pass a fit test to confirm a proper seal before using a respirator in the workplace.
  • When properly fitted and worn, minimal leakage occurs around edges of the respirator when the user inhales. This means almost all of the air is directed through the filter media.
  • Unlike NIOSH-approved N95s, facemasks are loose-fitting and provide only barrier protection against droplets, including large respiratory particles. No fit testing or seal check is necessary with facemasks. Most facemasks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.
  • The role of facemasks is for patient source control, to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes. Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a facemask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home. The patient does not need to wear a facemask while isolated.
Infographic – Understanding the Difference, Surgical Mask, N95 Respirator, CDC. CLICK TO ENLARGE. 

Okay, with that out there, it’s important to understand that surgical mask and cloth mask will not prevent you from contracting or transmitting the virus. It is not a sealed mask so air in and out from the sides, top and bottom happens. Reference the filtering properties above. It does offer a slight barrier against large droplets and fluids, but just because you wear a mask does not mean you’re safe. Keep in mind if you’re going the mask route, wear eye protection of some sort. If someone sneezes or coughs on you and that spit or snot gets in your eyes (think of that massive mist after someone sneezes)… well, your chances of contracting just shot through the roof if that person is positive.

Gloves. This is a fun one. Don’t wear these. Unless someone is handling contaminated materials or treating a patient, it really is pointless and you’re just spreading things around. The best practice here is to wash your hands, use hand sanitizers, and wipe down surfaces when out in public (gas handles, shopping carts, baskets, and things of that nature). Ask any provider right now what they do when they see someone driving wearing gloves or in the grocery store. We facepalm when we see the drivers and avoid the ones in the grocery store. However, I will say that fueling stations would be the one big place that I think gloves would be most acceptable. Wipe handle, fuel, dispose gloves.”

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Thank you ! I appreciate that a professional, informed person publicly confirms what I have been telling my friends.
When they respond with I’m protecting YOU by wearing my home made cloth mask..and it DOES work, I simply give up.
There are ladies out there sewing up thousands and thousands of cloth masks and giving them away or selling. It astounds me that almost everyone believes this is protecting either themselves or others.
There is a serious problem when you see a politician or doctor on a major news show stating that wearing one is better than nothing and that he commends the sewers for responding to the need for masks.
So much misinformation out there and too many people willing to believe anything they hear or read.

Michael Starks

No argument, but I wear gloves most of each day so I can frequently wash my hands without causing my skin to chap and crack.

Debbie PJ

Thank you~


I’ve seen people wearing masks that you could put a pencil alongside their cheek/ nose. You certainly don’t have any protection. Either fit it right or quit wasting resources.


I’ll let anyone who wants laugh at me for wearing gloves in a grocery store.

It’s very difficult to wipe down a grocery cart. You have to wipe the handle top & bottom. Then put the child seat in position and wipe down any part you might touch.

Now wipe all four top edges of the basket since you’re likely to touch them. If you’re going to put anything in the bottom of the cart, wipe down any surfaces you might touch putting things in or taking them out.

I’ve never touched my face while wearing gloves. Without gloves…

Donald N Wright

I think I will wear my Boy Scout Neckerchief.




Thank you Jonathan. Stay safe please.

Teresa Meyer

Thanks. A sane voice in sin of reaction.

Tommy Molnar

Very good article. Thanks for the information. It all makes perfect sense.

Randall Joe Davis (Capt. Randy)

Well done and quite right along with informative. As nearly a 40 year Paramedic and EMS Educator, I confirm and second all that John has presented.


“The best practice here is to,… use hand sanitizers, and wipe down surfaces when out in public.”

Thanks for the tip. Now please let me know WHERE I CAN FIND HAND SANITIZER AND WIPES!!! Thanks to the hoarders you can’t find that stuff in any stores, even Amazon!


Person which facial hair really doesn’t qualify for respirator mask as it can’t get tight seal.