Stay Strong

Articles and resources to help you remain EMS STRONG on and off the clock.

Stay Safe on the Job

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Content provided by NAEMT.

It seems like every day we read about another EMS practitioner who’s been hurt or killed in the line of duty. One day it’s an EMT who’s been struck by a passing car while working a highway crash; another day, a paramedic is assaulted while trying to help care for a sick child; and all too often, a first responder dies from a heart attack following a seemingly routine call. Our safety, and the safety of those with whom we work, is not automatic. We need to take action ourselves to make sure we go home at the end of the shift.

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A Stress Management Tool for EMS Professionals

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Content provided by JEMS.

That familiar tone rings out, and the dispatcher relays information of a true emergency: a rollover with multiple victims. You and your partner hop into your trusty rig and hope the injuries are minor, but are prepared for the worst. You can feel your heart pounding in your chest, part of the effects of the “fight or flight” syndrome. What should you do? Take a deep breath and relax.

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True confessions of a clinically depressed medic

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Content provided by EMS1.com.

It was a couple of months after my wife left me that I asked a trusted doctor friend a hypothetical question.

“Jalal,” I asked, ”if you had a patient who told you he worked all the time, and slept 19 hours a day on his days off, and barely got out of bed until it was time to go back to work, and had no appetite and felt tired all the time, what would you say was wrong with him?”

“I’d tell that patient that he was clinically depressed,” he answered soberly, “and tell him he needed to get help, right the heck now.”

“Crap,” I sighed. “I had a feeling that’s what you were going to say.”

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Ways EMTs can better manage stress

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Content provided by EMS1.com.

As EMS chiefs we are responsible for planning for and ensuring the needs of our crews are met during regular operations, as well as unique incidents or long-duration operations. For my service, the ongoing events in Ferguson, Mo. pushed and stressed our leadership team.

As we determine our response plan, first and foremost is the importance of keeping crews safe. We need to ensure our crews go home at the end of their shift. Having to make a visit to an employee’s home to deliver bad news is not on my things to do list.

As we looked at the lessons learned from the events in August 2014 and set our plan going forward, it was quickly noticed my leadership team was feeling stressed and a lesson on stress management was needed. Let’s reflect on how to manage the stress we face every day.

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EMS Health Part 4: Alcohol Abuse

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Content provided by EMS WORLD.

As paramedics and EMTs, you’ve likely seen your share of incidents associated with alcohol abuse and excessive consumption. Maybe it’s an accident at the hands of a drunk driver, or maybe it’s responding to a victim of alcohol poisoning. But sometimes it’s EMS personnel who are at risk.

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EMS Health Part 3: Smoking Cessation

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Content provided by EMS WORLD.

While widely reported studies suggest that moderate drinking (one drink a day for women, two for men) can be good for your heart, no one ever recommends moderate smoking. With heart disease, cancer and stroke the three leading causes of death for Americans, it’s important to consider that the CDC names tobacco, poor diet and alcohol as primary causes of those deaths. If you thought they were helping you manage stress, think again.

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EMS Health Part 2: Emotional Health

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Content provided by EMS WORLD.

There’s no denying that as a paramedic or EMT you are exposed to a lot of dreadfully sad events. But there is a difference between being sad because of something you saw or heard and being depressed for no apparent reason at all. Being sad is a normal reaction when something upsetting has happened, such as a loved one dying. However, when after several months you are unable to get out of bed in the morning, you could be depressed.

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EMS Health Part 1: Make Fitness Fit Into Your Routine

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Content provided by EMS WORLD.

Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle. And according to the American Heart Association, 65% of adults aren’t getting nearly enough since that’s the percentage of us who are classified as obese or overweight. In general, people are simply less active because of technology and better mass transportation. Physically active jobs now make up only about 25% of the workforce, 50% less than in 1950.

Even in the EMS field you’ve likely noticed technology has taken some of the physical strain out of the tasks you perform. Yet, it’s critical to stay in shape.

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Sleep Deprivation

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Content provided by IAFC.

The report, The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Fire Fighters and EMS Responders, along with its accompanying computer-based educational program, presents background information on normal sleep physiology and the health and performance effects of sleep deprivation.

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How to Eat Healthy on an EMS Budget

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Content provided by JEMS.

One major hurdle for EMS personnel trying to eat healthy on the job is cost. Wages for the typical EMS provider are significantly lower than those of the average American. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median pay for EMTs and paramedics as of 2010 was $30,360 per year, or approximately $14.60 per hour.(1) Contrast this with the mean per capita income of Americans that same year: $39,937, based on data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.(2) This means that EMTs and paramedics make almost 24% less yearly than the national average. What does this mean to your efforts to purchase nutritious food? Short answer: You need to find ways to eat well on the cheap.

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The Effects of Consuming Caffeine & Energy Drinks on a Long Shift

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Content provided by JEMS.

Most of us know at least one person who refuses to speak or function in the morning until they’ve had their first cup of coffee. Actually, chances are you know several, since a reported 90% of North Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis.1 EMS providers are likely no exception, since long hours, switching between days and nights, and busy shifts with no sleep can put extra stress on our bodies and cause extreme fatigue.

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