Beth Geoghegan, a paramedic for 27 years in South Florida, says she starts her day by cleaning her work space with virus-and-germ-killing soaps.
“It may sound like overkill, but it’s not -- it’s awareness,” she says. “It’s a matter of looking at your environment and thinking: What could be contaminated? All it takes is a tiny droplet. What could have a droplet on it? And I know someone was in my ambulance for 12 hours before I got there -- both patients and other paramedics. It may already look clean, but it might not be.”
It’s also a matter of context. When Geoghegan gets home from a shift where nothing much happened, she launches into her normal activities. If it’s been a day filled with sick patients, she follows a different routine.
“If I saw 10 patients today, and eight had flu symptoms, I’m likely to take my uniform off the minute I get home, put it in the wash, and get right in the shower. Because you just never know,” she says.
- Try to keep up a healthy lifestyle. It's important to look after your own health, says Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Lexington, Ky., and president-elect of the American Medical Association.
“Do all the things we all should be doing on a daily basis anyway,” says Hoven. “Get adequate rest -- which people underestimate -- get good nutrition, don’t smoke, and keep your allergies controlled, because if they’re out of control, then your upper respiratory tree is already inflamed, which sets it up to more easily acquire a virus.”