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As you may have noticed, our aging elderly population is quickly becoming an increasing percentage of your EMS calls. This is most likely related to a big population of Baby Boomers and age-related injuries and illnesses. A study done in the state of North Carolina in 2007 found that 38% of all patients transported to emergency departments were aged 65 or older, and this percentage is only expected to grow. In fact, many researchers are predicting that by 2030, 50% of all patients transported to emergency departments will be 65 or older. This only goes to show us that all EMS workers need to fully comprehend the specialized needs for the comfort of elderly patients.
The frailty of old age
Elderly patients are normally more fragile when compared to their younger counterparts. Age-related frailty is exhibited by decreased energy, unintentional weight loss, low grip strength, reduced walking speed, and a decreasing level of physical activity. In order to properly do your job as an EMS worker, you need to be aware that these patients must have extra care to remain comfortable during transport because they happen to be a little less resilient than some of your other patients. Blankets and pillows are simple tools that can be easily used to help you provide some extra comfort to your aging patients.
There are numerous types of blankets an EMS worker can use to help their elderly patients. Below are the four most common medical blankets and how you can use them.
Polyester Blankets. A top quality medical one-time use polyester blanket is able to effectively provide protection from cross-contamination, infections, and stains when used properly. They are also able to easily keep your elderly patients warm and comfortable during their transport. Many polyester blankets can also be placed in warmers (some are able to take temperatures as high as 150 degrees Fahrenheit) in order to keep your patient warm on those cold transports.
Mylar Blankets. Mylar blankets are convenient to use because they are lightweight and compact, which makes them easy to pack, store, and transport. They are weather-resistant and can stand up well to snow, sleet, ice, or rain. These blankets provide a quick passive warming, which can be a necessity to any patients you have, young or old, suffering from hypothermia.
Fleece Blankets. A fleece blanket is a heavier option when compared to the other blanket types. These are also a one time use blanket. Like the polyester blankets, some fleece blankets are able to be placed in warmers and can withstand temperatures up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. These blankets provide warmth and an extra added touch of softness to help keep your elderly patients stay nice and comfortable. during their transport
Poly/Tissue Blankets. Poly/tissue blankets are lightweight and single-use blankets. They can easily provide your patient with protection from the elements, like rain, sun or wind. They are also normally used to identify priority or fall risk patients, and most, not all, will come in a bright yellow color to help alert the medical staff around them.
As an EMS worker, you have to stay aware of all the various challenges associated with transporting any elderly patients. Prevention is the key to efficiently assisting your elderly patients in order to prevent and avoid any unnecessary accidents, such as trip and fall accidents, medicine dosage mistakes, and hypothermia. However, even with all your due diligence, accidents can and will happen. You must have an understanding of how much more care is required to keep them comfortable, and you should always show compassion to ensure all their needs and then some are met. Remember as an EMS worker your main goal is to keep your patients comfortable and safe.