Building an Emergency Responder Magnet Safety Program, Part II

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Last month we presented a case for proactively training external emergency response personnel in magnet safety, and this month, in Part II, we outline how to develop such an education program for your community. The objectives of your program should be to:

  • Provide basic MR education to emergency personnel
  • Create an opportunity for individuals to ask questions in a confidential manner
  • Affirm MR lessons learned through a written test and self-questionnaire
  • Communicate critical information about your facility’s layout and emergency quench protocols

Early in the process, MRI site managers should contact appropriate emergency leaders, including fire chiefs, police chiefs, and EMT liaisons, to arrange times to educate emergency personnel on the dangers of ferrous materials near the magnet. Each presentation should be personalized to the group, but all should include a 25 minute Power Point that includes:

  • Basic principles and safety
  • Types of magnets
  • Magnetic fields
  • Patient and visitor safety
  • Non-ferrous vs ferrous objects
  • MR contraindications
  • MR safe vs MR compatibility
  • Perils of the 5 gauss line
  • The exclusion zone
  • Facility specific data

After the presentation, demonstrate the power of the magnet using an MRI safety video. Visuals are often the most salient reminders of accident potential. Using the materials already created for educating internal MRI personnel, give emergency groups the following material to increase knowledge of the dangers of ferrous material in the magnet room:

  • A provider check list of MR safety protocol
  • A non-compatible ferrous metal checklist
  • Additional literature on MR safety
  • A program quiz for the trainee
  • A competency based assessment form used to ensure complete program competency for the trainee
  • Finally, make sure you leave sufficient time for questions, and be prepared for confidential individual inquiries after the session. With a small investment of time and energy, you can create a program that minimizes risks to emergency responders, technical staff, patients, and the equipment. These best practices in MRI safety education have stemmed from extensive MRI experience in the radiology department at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and specifically, the MRI safety program developed by Sherry Piskadlo, MRI operations manager.