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Wednesday

It's Only Pepper Spray!

Just a reminder here that those non-lethal or less-than-lethal weapons can cause serious issues. Recently, an REI store had to be evacuated due to bear-spray release. Check out the details of the story here: http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12939095?nclick_check=1

We've been lulled, perhaps by the name, that non-lethal weapons like pepper spray are not serious concerns.

Wrong.

Even when deployed for legitimate reasons and in proper fashion, pepper spray, mace, and other such products can cause a variety of situations. These materials stress the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and precipitate brochospasm. There is also the potential for multiple people to be exposed and in need of treatment. Saturation and prolonged skin contact can cause burns...especially in those hard to reach, moist areas of the body.

Perhaps most important for the responder; remember the need for decontamination. Victims exposed to mace or pepper spray need to be cleaned prior to being placed in a treatment area or in the back of an ambulance. Appropriate removal of outer clothing and water wash should do the trick in many cases. Understand that failing to do so puts the responder at risk of exposure to the material. And just like any other hazardous material event, no patient should be transported to a hospital without being evaluated for need for decontamination.

Lastly, don't forget the psychological impact of these situations. The "worried-well" can clog a system and deplete response resources at a faster rate than actual victims do!

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