Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff are invested in the safe care and transport of patients. You need your teams to function effectively and knowledgeably, so you ensure they receive the education and hands-on training they need. But the bottom line is that your EMS professionals need to be healthy themselves – physically and emotionally – to operate with maximum efficiency.
The transport of patients through tight places is always difficult. Patients need to be kept safe and EMS personnel need to avoid excessive body strain that may cause injury. This is exacerbated with large or bariatric patients, something that's becoming more common. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, "Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight." That creates a real issue when having to extract the person from a tight space.
When emergency responders experience burnout, it's no joke. An Australia survey found 36% of their paramedics suffered from depression. And depression can lead to suicide. One Chicago fire department experienced seven suicides in an 18 month period. Mental health issues have become such a serious problem that a survey of 4,000 first responders revealed that 6.6% had attempted suicide, a number over 10 times higher than the general population.
Fire suppression events generally occur in hazardous and stressful environments which often include flames, smoke, and falling debris. Rescue situations are often high-stress and rarely occur in ideal conditions. Emergency medical first responders are often subject to health issues and injuries on the job.
Research has shown that EMS workers experience increased stress that develops either as a result of one particular incident that left a major impact on them or the overall accumulation of many years of stressful moments. There is no doubt that the stress has a strong emotional impact on personnel, whether they are experienced or not.
Emergency medical service (EMS) personnel are the first to arrive at stressful scenes. Oftentimes calls bring these crews to individuals who are scared, hurt, or angry. These heroic professionals work tirelessly to help in any way they can, even going into burning buildings in the case of your local fireman.
In recent years, the effects of sleep deprivation and its effects on EMS health and safety have come onto the radar. Depending on the area, it is not uncommon for EMS personnel to work 24-hour shifts. The responsibilities of EMS personnel require them to remain alert and attentive at all times in order to prevent procedural errors and avoid injury to themselves, co-workers, patients, and others. Studies show that consistently working long shifts causes fatigue, which makes even simple tasks become difficult, drug calculations more challenging, and the overall environment more unsafe.
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics have an injury rate three times above the national average. To say there are pain points created during patient transportation is a fun play on words, but it's true. These emergency medical responders are highly prone to painful sprains, strains, bruises, and more.
First responders are always focused on patient safety. Whether climbing five floors of an urban walk-up, navigating tiny doorways of an older house, or dealing with trash and clutter, the terrain doesn't matter as long as that EMS team can gain access to the person in need.
Every second counts when transporting a patient to an emergency medical provider. Some patients may be critical, needing necessary care within that golden hour-long window. Other patients might be okay, but require fast stabilization of a break or tear to prevent further injury. Even minor ailments can cause patients extra pain and anxiety if they have to wait for transportation and care.