• Written By:
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    This study evaluated the feasibility of rapid training and fit testing health care workers to elastomeric half-mask respirators (EHMRs).

    Study design

    In 2019, Emory University and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston conducted an outbreak simulation and randomized 193 health care personnel to receive EHMR (n=124) or N95 respirators (n=29). Individuals were then rapidly fit tested and trained and the number of fit testing attempts and testing times were recorded. Both groups were trained using a 9-minute video.

    Outcomes

    In the EHMR group, 92% passed fit testing during the first attempt compared with 89% of the N95 group (P =0.76). Overall, all participants passed by the third attempt. The average time to complete fit testing was not significantly different between the 2 groups.

    Limitations

    Participants using EHMR had prior experience using other forms of respiratory protection, which may have influenced their high performance. Other study limitations include the nature of the simulated emergency, small number of participants and lack of data on actual EHMR use.

    Clinical significance

    Elastomeric half-mask respirators may serve as a suitable alternative to disposable N95 respirators during public health emergencies. Since health care professionals can be rapidly trained, EHMRs offer another avenue for respiratory protection during this COVID-19 pandemic.