If you work in emergency medical services, you can take pride in your work providing injured people with the first line of care. Whether you are a first responder, paramedic or emergency medical technician, your job duties are crucial to disaster response. However, your responsibilities also put you at a unique risk for occupational injuries and illnesses.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were approximately 21,300 EMS worker injuries and illnesses in 2014 that resulted in emergency room treatments. What job hazards do you face that could cause you to miss work? Read below to learn about some of the inherent risks of being an EMS worker.
1. Back injuries
As an EMS worker, you are at risk of a back injury because you constantly lift patients and equipment. Patients may be overweight and equipment may be particularly heavy. You also frequently kneel, bend and stretch. These activities may result in various overexertion injuries, including neck or shoulder problems.
2. Infectious illnesses
You handle various body substances and hazardous chemicals while on the job. In order to treat victims of trauma, you may need to use needles and other surgical instruments. These duties can put you at risk of getting a blood-borne pathogen from viruses such as Hepatitis B or C. Contact with blood and bodily fluids can result in a variety of infections and illnesses.
3. Psychological stress
It can be stressful and traumatic to constantly deal with life-threatening situations. EMS workers sometimes develop post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression. Making critical decisions when responding to emergencies and witnessing tragedies can take a toll on your mental health.
You face unique dangers every time you respond to an emergency. While your job is to treat people with injuries, you may get hurt yourself. Familiarize yourself with these risks so you understand when to seek workers’ compensation for an on-the-job injury or illness.