Recent data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health show that for every 100 paramedics and emergency medical technicians in the United States, between eight and nine experience an occupational injury requiring treatment in a hospital. While 8 or 9% may seem like a small amount, it is more than four times the rate for workers in any other profession in the United States.
Repetitive duties — like lifting patients, bending and kneeling — are the leading cause of injury. These duties lead to back injuries, sprains and strains. The second leading injury cause is exposure to blood and bodily fluids. These hazards are constant risks due to the profession, but can be managed through exercises and stretching or, in the case of exposure to harmful substances, proper use of personal protective equipment.
Assaults on ambulance workers is third. While reported assaults make up a small portion of total injuries, the number is still 22 times higher than any other occupation. Researchers also believe this number is underreported.
- Review and use proper lifting techniques.
- Exercise and stretch to strengthen muscles and joints used for common work-related duties.
- Report assaults and patient violence. Providing the data on the frequency of events can bring attention to the problem.