EMS Tips

EMS Handwashing Policy – Updated

  1. Wash your hands
  2. We really mean it, wash your hands
  3. Wash your hands more often than you are.
  4. Don’t know if you should wash your hands right now? That means you should stop what you are doing right now and wash your hands. Thanks. Keep reading
  5. Wash your hands after every patient contact, assessment or procedure.
  6. Wash your hands after any situation in which you touch any piece of equipment in the ambulance or surface in the ambulance. Including, but not limited to:
    • The steering wheel
    • All other driver controls
    • Radio microphones, buttons and cords
    • Any part of a stethoscope or blood pressure cuff
    • Pens, pencils and styli
    • Cardiac monitors handle, dials, buttons or cables
    • Cot rails, bars, belts, buckles or controls
  7. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  8. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based waterless hand wash
  9. Encourage, shame and berate your co-workers, subordinates and supervisors into washing their hands more often.
  10. Wash your hands after you eat, use the bathroom, cough, sneeze, wipe your nose or pick your nose.
  11. Wash your hands after stroking your beard or curling your mustache.
  12. Please learn to cough into your elbow. Please. This really matters.
  13. Wash your hands after cleaning surfaces in the ambulance or any ambulance equipment.
  14. Wash your hands after removing gloves.
  15. If you have any doubt about when to wash your hands, go wash them.
  16. If you believe this handwashing policy doesn’t apply to you. It does. Go wash your hands.
  17. Complaints about this handwashing policy can be submitted in writing (only after you wash your hands) with the subject line: Hand cleanliness reduces disease transmission.
  18. Carefully avoid all invitations to shake hands with anyone. Instead offer a forearm bump.
  19. After reading this policy, go wash your hands.
soap and hand sanitizer
Wash your hands.

Note: This policy was written as part of my 2018-2020 paramedic refresher. Once we nail handwashing we can take on other challenges of preventing the transmission of infectious diseases. 

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.