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"The mortuary stretcher is great! We already used it for (transporting) 450 pounds..... was smooth and easy to operate."
Health Concerns for EMS Workers
The main duty an EMS worker deals with is protecting the health and safety of others. From providing much-needed oxygen after a fire to stabilizing a spine after a vehicular accident to tending to the elderly after a slip and fall accident, first responders know that health and safety are important. However, why is their own health and safety so frequently overlooked? There are numerous ailments that many EMS workers are at risk for due solely to their chosen career path. Unfortunately, not every incident will be preventable; however, a swift diagnosis from medical and administrative staff can effectively ensure early treatment and intervention to help find a solution to many problems before they progress too far.
There were more than 21,000 physical injuries reported by EMS workers in 2014. Most of these injuries can be associated with three main sources:
Trash and other clutter
Improper lifting techniques
Many EMS workers will be called to homes of patients who cannot keep up with daily chores, and their homes may have become some type of hoarding situation. The clutter and disorganization can pose a high risk of slip and fall injuries, which can often time result in missed work days for the EMS worker. Outdated architecture poses a similar risk. The difficulties facing transport of a patient through small doorways, steep stairs, and tiny hallways can cause strains on an EMS worker and can pose a high risk for slip and fall accidents. Back strains are common for many EMS workers. When not given or ignoring the proper training for proper transport with the equipment provided the risk will only increase.
During their careers, the majority of EMS workers will be exposed to pathogens that can cause some pretty serious health and safety concerns. EMS workers have to worry not only about colds and cases of flu but many other types of infectious germs. Fires and accidents may contain things, such as chemicals and other particles in the smoke that can wreak havoc on the body, especially the respiratory system. In fact, forty-one states have presumptive laws for firefighters and others who are present during the firefighting process, such as EMS workers because respiratory diseases are so prevalent in their career. These laws can give them some additional protection. EMS workers are often exposed to bloodborne pathogens that may pose a risk for the transmission of HIV or Hepatitis B and C. Heart disease and cancer are also common illnesses for EMS workers.
Mental and Emotional Health Issues
Mental and emotional health issues can be a huge problem for many EMS workers. Their jobs can be extremely stressful, and many may find themselves suffering from sleep deprivation, depression, PTSD, panic attacks or other stress-related illnesses at some time during their career. These types of illnesses should be dealt with immediately, or they will only get worse. Many EMS workers may feel the need to avoid talking about these issues and putting off their treatment. They may feel as if these types of illnesses may make them look weak or unable to do their job effectively. Some may even feel as if they will be passed up for promotions. Mental and emotional health is a major component of the health and well-being of an EMS worker. If you have any issues, please seek help and advice immediately.
An EMS worker will be bombarded with many factors that can have a negative effect on their health and well-being on a daily basis. The best way to combat these factors is to inform and educate your EMS workers. Being able to understand and prevent these health issues quickly is the only way to ensure that EMS workers maintain the best health and well-being possible in their line of work.