If you or a loved one is an emergency medical technician (EMT), you may be heartened to hear that the demand for them is expected to keep growing for at least the next few years. However, as you know, it’s a physically and emotionally demanding occupation.
The constant lifting and carrying of people can result in serious, long-term injuries. EMTs often are impacted by the stressful, sometimes life-and-death, situations they face every day. Anxiety, depression and other psychological issues are not uncommon.
Let’s focus on physical injuries for now. Some 22,000 professionals and volunteers who work in emergency medical services (EMS) jobs become patients themselves in emergency rooms every year due to injuries suffered on the job. Many more, of course, seek treatment from their doctors or deal with their injuries on their own.
The most common injuries for which EMS workers seek emergency treatment involve body motions. They suffer injuries as they lift, carry and transfer patients out of their homes or cars into ambulances. Overweight and obese people present the greatest danger.
Other common causes of EMS injuries include:
Harmful substances: This includes exposure to diseases through a patient’s blood or other bodily secretions. While EMS providers typically wear gloves, they don’t always wear face masks.
Falls: EMS providers are always going up and down stairs and curbs while carrying patients and/or equipment — often in a hurry. It’s easy to miss a step, trip on an uneven surface or slip on a wet floor or pavement.
Vehicle crashes and other incidents: People in the front and back of ambulances can suffer injuries — not just in crashes, but from swerving and stopping suddenly. Those in the back of these vehicles don’t have the protection of seat belts. Most injuries suffered in emergency vehicles happen when lights and sirens aren’t being used to alert other drivers to clear a path.
Act of violence: Emergency personnel, like doctors and other health care providers, are too often victims of assault and other violent acts by the people they’re trying to help or those around them. Many of the perpetrators are highly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
If you have suffered an injury or illness in this line of work, it’s essential to get the necessary treatment. This means seeking the workers’ compensation needed to support yourself and your family as you heal.