The effects of continuous operation in a chemical protective ensemble on the performance of medical tasks in trauma management

J Trauma. 1993 Nov;35(5):800-4. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199311000-00025.


Treating casualties in a chemically hazardous environment constitutes a unique problem. Physical protection of the medical personnel may impair their performance and potentially affect patients' prognoses. The present study examined the effect of prolonged physical protection on the accomplishment of medical tasks related to trauma management. Sixty one emergency medical technicians, acclimatized to operating in protective gear, underwent four rounds of testing during eight hours of continuously wearing either a chemical protective suit or regular fatigues. The quality of the designated medical tasks, including sterility, was maintained throughout the study. A significant reduction in speed of performance was noted (approximately 30% slowing, p < 0.0001 in multivariate analysis) because of protective clothing. There was no additional decrement in performance following a prolonged stay in the protective gear. We conclude that in a chemically contaminated area, fully protected medical personnel are capable of treating trauma patients reasonably well, and for a relatively long period of time. The importance of pretraining and proper instruction is emphasized.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emergency Medical Technicians*
  • Hazardous Substances*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Protective Clothing*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*


  • Hazardous Substances