EBOLA – Recommendations

As many of you have read in the news, the Ebola problem is not getting any better.  More and more reports are released every day about continuing new cases of infection.

As agents, we need to be protecting our fellow agents, our families, and ourselves.

If you think this problem can’t come here, think again.  As we previously reported a couple of weeks ago, Sumas Station in Blaine Sector recently apprehended 14 individuals from Tanzania.  Fortunately, appropriate safety precautions were taken to ensure no contamination of agents or property occurred.  Also fortunately, a health screening of the 14 individuals showed none of them to be infected.  Subsequently, Sumas agents have taken further precautions to ensure every agent is prepared for the eventuality of multiple apprehensions of infected EWI’s.

The suggestion was made at the station level by the union to outfit each vehicle with a box of protective gloves and a box of protective facemasks. This is a superb idea and one that we wish to proliferate throughout the local.

Big kudos to Rod Severance for his ideas and suggestions!  And thanks for contacting me!

As a result of his ideas, we recommended the same measures be taken at a Sector-wide level at the quarterly meeting with Spokane Sector management on the 5th of November.  The idea was received well by Deputy Chief Tim Sullivan and Assistant Chief Adrian Cotsworth.  They gave us their assurances they would be considering the proposal very seriously as they seek to implement adequate safety measures to protect Spokane agents.

We look forward to discussing those measures and their solutions in the very near future.

We will be making these same recommendations to both Blaine and Havre Sector management, as well.

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Ebola is not the only threat.  About 4 years ago, a fellow agent and I made an arrest of a female who had jumped the gate at a closed POE.  One month after we had processed her, we were notified she was infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).  We had not taken adequate precautions to ensure we didn’t get infected and we were sweating bullets while we waited for medical test results.  Thank goodness, neither of us got sick.  Needless to say, we learned our lesson on that one.

My point in this is to drive home the point that Ebola is not our only concern.  Tuberculosis, Staphylococcus, scabies, and a virtual cocktail of other nasty diseases are out there and we need to ensure our protection.

Protect yourselves, folks.  Don’t gamble with your health or those around you!

Take measures to prevent the spread of disease:

  • If you suspect aliens may be ill, wear your PPE!!   i.e – Nitrile gloves, N95 masks, face shields, if you have them.
  • Limit travel time with aliens in vehicles to as much as possible.  Close quarters with infected aliens increases your chance of exposure from airborne particulates.
  • Mask up any illegal alien you suspect of being ill.  You may even want to make them wear nitrile gloves.  We don’t CARE if they don’t like it.  Insist!
  • Avoid unnecessary physical contact with property and people.  This problem is a very good argument against wearing short sleeve duty shirts anymore!
  • Watch what you touch after you handle property or people!  You might spread whatever they might have! Dispose of your gloves after each handling of people or property.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with hot soap and water after removing your nitrile gloves.  Do not reuse nitrile gloves!  They are cheap and we have tons of them!
  • Keep a spare uniform in your locker in case the one you’re wearing comes in contact with infectious substances.
  • You may not have seen your uniform absorb sputum, sweat, vomit, skin cells, hair or blood as you handled people or property, but they could be there!  Don’t take the chance!  Remove the uniform before you leave and put it in a trash bag.  Take a shower and change into your spare clothes.
  • Segregate the uniform you wore that day from your family’s laundry when you get home.  Wash it separately in very hot water.  If you’re really concerned, throw the damned thing out!  Also, many dry cleaners have protocols for handling contaminated clothing.
  • If you don’t have a dry cleaner locally, check with your local hospital or medical clinic and ask them what they do with their uniforms that get soiled with potentially infectious fluids.

Finally,

  • If you suspect aliens may be ill or infectious, REPORT IT!!! Tell your supervisor and the other agents who will be dealing with the aliens!  Don’t let your doubts keep you from warning others.
  • Consult your HAZCOM and blood-borne and airborne pathogens pamphlets.  Every station is REQUIRED to have one of each, readily available to all employees.

Thanks for your time.  If you have ANY ideas or suggestions we could use to put pressure on management in all three sectors to protect our agents, PLEASE contact me via email or cell.

Stay safe!  Stay healthy!

 

Marty Aguilar

Health and Safety Officer

NBPC/AFGE Local 2913

m.aguilar2913@gmail.com

(509)315-7667

Comments

  1. Mike Cox

    Thanks for the story Marty! POTUS just welcomed the rest of the third world to jump our border so lets mask up all aliens, don’t take a chance!

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