Caregiving, like hydrogen sulfide gas, can be dangerously deceptive

The use of extreme caution around hydrogen sulfide gas is one of the most important requirements in safety training for people who operate or regularly visit oil and gas facilities.

The gas is so treacherous that, at dangerous concentrations, the characteristic rotten eggs smell can no longer be sensed and so the danger seems to have disappeared.  It can kill quickly and it has been known for several bodies to be discovered near a source of the gas. That’s because rescuers, being unaware of the presence of the gas, can quickly succumb to it too.

These days, ongoing safety training is required for all oil and gas employees; especially those who need to work where hydrogen sulfide may be present. In these circumstances, the ‘Buddy’ system is employed.

Buddy system

This calls for tasks to be performed in pairs, but not working side by side. Rules are that if your ‘Buddy’ shows any sign of trouble you put on your portable respiration gear immediately and then investigate the problem. 

It’s a bit like the oxygen mask procedure on air lines; you are instructed to put yours on first so you can help a child or those requiring assistance.

Caregiving, though not so dramatic and sudden as some safety issues, may become much more challenging in the long term than it first appears. This can lead to caregiver exhaustion and burnout.

Those who are, or may be about to become caregivers need to give some thought to how they are equipped mentally and physically for the task. If the care required is slight then it is probably not so onerous a responsibility.

Some may feel that they have no other alternative but to respond to the needs of the recipient, whatever the circumstances, but there are many other resources and alternatives a caregiver may consider. 

Are there other members of the family who may be more suited to the task? Maybe the duty can be shared between one or more members of the family.  What outside community or government services are available to ease the demands on the caregiver? Are there respite programs available for much needed rest and recuperation?

If the caregiver and recipient both become almost helpless then you suddenly have two people in a poor situation instead of one. 

Just as in the ‘Buddy’ system safety approach to hydrogen sulfide gas, caregivers need to continuously assess and understand the implications and responsibilities associated with care giving.

It can be a difficult task especially if it’s attempted all alone.  No one can be expected to perform effectively without help.