When working in a smelly situation

ParamedicStudent

Forum Crew Member
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You know, foul-smelling, is it offensive to wear a mask or get something to cover up your nose? Serious question.

I mean, I've smelled some pretty gnarly stuff before, I'm sure we all have, and I'm not talking about usual odors and stenches, I'm talking about the 5% of smells we hope to never smell again in our lives. I can say working on a BLS rig, I've experienced something new and hopefully to never come again smell a couple days ago. I mean, if I can get something to cover up my nose I would. Is it offensive to the patient or their family? Granted I'm not doing anything to harm them, and my care isnt any different, but I'm not looking to gag or possibly throw up or become sick to my stomach.

Any tips/recommendations?
 

dutemplar

Forum Captain
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A trick picked up from some funeral home people:

A tiny dab of Vick's vapor rub under your nose. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it's strong enough to overpower most stenches for a little while. Generally works on crispy burns, gangrene, decomp,... Your mileage may vary.

When in doubt, the commercials say Febreze works wonders, and maybe you could sue for false advertisement if it doesn't. Then again, the commercials were dirty and trashy, not flaming zombies... Hmm...
 

EpiEMS

Forum Deputy Chief
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If there's a chance you could get it in you or on you, I don't think a mask is "offensive". But if it's just a stench, go with Vicks. Or peppermint oil.
YMMV, naturally.
 

Tigger

Dodges Pucks
Community Leader
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Do not place hand sanitizer on the interior of a surgical mask and then wear it. It's a ey uh poor idea.
 

NysEms2117

ex-Parole officer/EMT
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Vicks vapo rub, is my go to, i have it in a pocket when doing warrants and such at my LE job, never know what conditions folks live in, and with all do respect i want to do my job and leave, and dont want to smell it. Vicks gives you minty freshness for about 10-15 mins, which should allow you to handle whatever you need, get some fresh air and.... re-apply. lol
 

HypOthymesia

Forum Probie
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After my first experience with an upper GI bleed I found it was easier to stop and swipe a little vicks under my nose and get back to work rather than concentrating on trying not to gag. A mask every time you smell something stinky isn't really practical unless you're going to be stuck with the smell for 30+ minutes.
 

MrLegsGuy

Forum Crew Member
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Vics has never let me down, And i'm talking about the wormy ones.
Just make sure you don't get up UP your nose, and a little goes a long way.
I also sometimes put it on the particulate mask itself. Because lets not kid ourselves, Those things dont block ALL smells
 

zzyzx

Forum Captain
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It's not offensive to wear a mask, but why not just breathe through your mouth? You can't smell anything if you breathe through your mouth and not your nose.
 

ExpatMedic0

MS, NRP
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NRB 15L on yourself (jk)
 

NomadicMedic

EMS Educator
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Another a trick is to put 5cc of saline and a couple of drops of essential oil (ginger/lavender or whatever you have) in a neb and hang it up to blow it's goodness into the area.

I learned this St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way Washington when I was tasked with assessing a frequent flyer who was known for being quite malodorous. I'm forever thankful to those RNs and techs. Their scented neb trick has saved me on several occasions.
 

Arovetli

Forum Captain
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NRB 15L on yourself (jk)

This method has actually worked quite well for me in the past....something soothing about the medicinal smell of the NRB....
 
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