Home Emergency Management News MRSA: What is it, and How do we Contain it?

MRSA: What is it, and How do we Contain it?


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Perhaps one of the most important concepts in emergency management is figuring out how to contain an emergency well. The principle behind this is simple: if one can keep an emergency contained, one can figure out how to manage that emergency effectively preventing it from spiraling out of control.  Mass casualty Incidents ultimately refer to the notion that an agency is overwhelmed as it refers to too many patients for the number of resources available. Thus, it is always important for emergency managers to contemplate how to keep an emergency contained, and from worsening.

The handling of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, (better known as MRSA), by most hospitals is a great example of one of the main principles of emergency management. When a case presents, hospitals handle MRSA by limiting exposure, having staff take certain precautions and then treating the patient.   The procedures outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works well and provides insights into how to keep infectious diseases under control.

What Is MRSA?

MRSA is considered to be a "superbug" infectious disease and is resistant to most antibiotics - making it difficult to treat. According to WebMD, it can present in a simple wound, or it can infect surgical sites and other parts of the body.  The illness can be quite serious for patients, therefore specialized procedures are required at hospitals to limit exposure and the potential spread of the illness. Understanding the infection is essential in keeping it from spreading and minimizing its effects.

Ways to Contract it

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are five main ways to contract MRSA. These include, “Crowding, frequent skin to skin contact, compromised skin, (i.e. cuts or abrasions), contaminated items, and lack of cleanliness.”  According to the CDC, many places may potentially contain MRSA including military barracks, daycare centers, locker rooms, and places of education – just to name a few.

Preventing MRSA

The CDC several measures that people can take to help prevent MRSA infections. For individuals with a suspected wound infected with MRSA, the CDC recommends they keep it clean and covered to help prevent the spreading of MRSA. They also recommend that hospital staff always wear gowns, eye protection and gloves when working with a patient with suspected MRSA. They require that a patient be quarantined to his or her room.  These precautions work well and certainly help to prevent infections from spreading. Before a positive diagnosis, it may be difficult for Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics to understand the precautions they should take based on the patient. Therefore, it is important for suspected cases to have personnel take universal precautions to minimize exposure.


Infectious diseases are always a concern. They can create situations in emergency management that may potentially be uncontrollable. It is important to always minimize these issues and to take the appropriate precautions. MRSA serves as an excellent example of working to contain an infectious disease by utilizing what we know about it in advance.


Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.