According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million American children and adults have diabetes, and 79 million more are at a high risk of developing the disease. This makes it important to recognize diabetic emergencies in the workplace, say executives at Cintas Corporation, providers of first-aid and safety products and services delivery.
In recognition of American Diabetes Month, Cintas outlined five steps employees should take during a diabetic emergency.
“A diabetic reaction can happen at any time and employees must be ready to respond quickly and correctly,” said Nancy Petersen, Senior Marketing Manager, Cintas. “These steps not only raise awareness of diabetes, but provide ways for first responders to help a coworker in need.”
These steps for handling a diabetic reaction include:
1. Check for medical bracelets and necklaces—Diabetics often wear medical bracelets or necklaces to alert others of their condition. These identification pieces inform work colleagues and emergency personnel of the individual’s personal information and their diabetes type when the victim is unable to communicate.
2. Call emergency service providers—When a diabetic emergency occurs, a worker should immediately dial for help (i.e. 911) from a landline phone. Once emergency personnel arrive, employees must be prepared to answer questions about the signs and symptoms of the reaction, how long the diabetic has been unresponsive and what, if any, help was given prior to the arrival of medics.
3. Locate your employer’s first-aid cabinet—Employees should be able to locate the first-aid cabinet quickly and easily. Ideally, it will be filled with a variety of solutions, including a glucose product to help elevate low blood sugar levels. Products should be contained in individually sealed, tamper-evident packets to avoid contamination.
4. Use alternate solutions if necessary—If the employer does not have a glucose solution or easily accessible first-aid cabinet, alternate solutions will be required. Sugary drinks such as soda or fruit juice and sugary foods like candy bars and donuts can be given to an individual experiencing a diabetic attack. After increasing sugar levels, some form of carbohydrate, such as bread, should be given to the patient in order to sustain these levels.
5. Recall your training—Since the ADA notes that a diabetic reaction can happen suddenly, and help is often minutes away, businesses should conduct first aid training throughout the year to prepare employees for an emergency. Safety directors should ensure first aid posters are up to date and posted in common areas.
“Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of our country and is a bigger killer than breast cancer and AIDS combined,” added Petersen. “Preparing employees to take these steps during a workplace emergency can mean the difference between losing a life and saving one.”