Every day, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel put their lives on the line. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 22,000 these EMS workers experience work-related injuries that required emergency medical care on a yearly basis. Additionally, EMS workers have a greater risk of experiencing a workplace injury when compared to the rest of the workforce.
Most EMS workers sustained injuries while responding to a 911 call. These injuries often included strain and sprains to specific areas of the body, including the neck and back. Most incidents involve movement injuries, meaning workers are harmed while in motion. Exposure to toxic substances or pathogens is also a common cause of workplace injuries. Other workers are subject to slips and falls, as well as vehicle accidents and violent assaults. More serious injuries often result in decreased productivity and more absences, which can negatively impact the injured worker as well as public health when personnel is unavailable.
To prevent EMS injuries, workplaces are encouraged to adopt certain safe practices. When it comes to dangerous substance exposure, an exposure control plan must be in place to deal with any issues. Workers must also be provided the appropriate personal protective equipment to address substance spills and other types of exposure. Along with the provision of such equipment, employers are obligated to train workers on the proper use.
Workers must also be counseled on best practices for their respective positions. When handling patients, using the right posture prevents exertion injuries. Staff should also be trained on how to use equipment to help them transport patients in a safe manner. When it comes to ambulances, ambulances should be outfitted with the proper safety systems and restraints to prevent injuries in the event of an accident.