Panel publishes guidelines on EMS worker fatigue

Minnesota paramedics have a very stressful and tiring job. In order to address this issue, the National Association of State EMS Officials and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have established a set of guidelines to help emergency medical services workers cope with on-the-job fatigue.

Researchers analyzed nearly 40,000 articles and studies on EMS worker fatigue and presented their findings to a panel of experts. The literature showed that more than 50 percent of EMS workers suffer from extreme physical and mental fatigue while on duty. It also showed that they get poor quality sleep and experience little recovery during off hours. Meanwhile, half of all EMS workers report getting less than six hours of sleep each day.

In response, the panel of experts recommended that EMS organizations limit worker shifts to less than 24 hours and provide education and training on how to manage workplace fatigue. In addition, the panel recommended that EMS workers always have caffeine accessible and be allowed to take naps in between emergency responses. Finally, the panel said that EMS workers should be encouraged to take surveys that measure fatigue and sleepiness while they are on duty. The recommendations were published on Jan. 11.

Fatigue is an important workplace safety issue, and it is one that could lead to serious accidents on the job. Workers' compensation benefits are generally available to injured employees regardless of fault. However, it might be advisable for a person in this situation to have the help of an attorney when preparing and submitting a claim.

Source: Safety and Health, "New guidelines intended to reduce fatigue among EMS workers", Jan. 23, 2018

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