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Well Being of EMT/Paramedic

What you should know 

  • Paramedics need to know how to ensure their own well-being.
  • Wellness has at least four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is important to keep all four dimensions healthy and balanced.
  • The American Heart Association’s Simple 7 are seven factors that have been found to improve heart health: get active, control cholesterol, eat better, manage blood pressure, lose weight, reduce blood sugar, and stop smoking.
  • Nutrition plays a key role in maintaining day-to-day energy and maintaining a healthy body for life.
  • Practice proper lifting techniques to protect your body and lengthen your career.

–  Minimize the number of total body lifts you have to perform.

–  Coordinate every lift in advance.

–  Minimize the total amount of weight you have to lift.

–  Never lift with your back.

–  Do not carry what you can put on wheels.

–  Ask for help anytime.

  • Stress reactions can be acute, delayed, or cumulative. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a syndrome with onset following a traumatic, usually life-threatening event. Critical incident stress management is a process developed to address acute stress situations. Paramedics may also seek help through an employee assistance program.
  • Learn how to effectively control stress so that it does not affect your wellness. Take appropriate action. Initial management techniques include the following:

–  Controlled breathing

–  Professional assistance

–  Progressive relaxation

  • A patient’s reaction to stress may include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, denial, regression, projection, and displacement.
  • Health care professionals are not immune to the stresses of emergency situations and experience a multitude of feelings, not all of them pleasant.
  • Burnout is a consequence of chronic, unrelieved stress.
  • As a paramedic, you will be present when a lot of people are born and you will be there when a lot of people die.
  • The patient who is dying may be aware of that fact and may want to talk about it. Be prepared to listen and provide empathy.
  • A communicable disease is any disease that can be spread from person to person or animal to person. Infectious diseases can be transmitted by contact (direct or indirect), or they are airborne, foodborne, or vector-borne.
  • Even if you are exposed to an infectious disease, your risk of becoming ill is small. Whether or not an acute infection occurs depends on several factors, including the amount and type of infectious organism and your resistance to that infection.
  • You can take several steps to protect yourself against exposure to infectious diseases, including remaining up-to-date with recommended vaccinations, following standard precautions at all times, and handling all needles and other sharp objects with great care.
  • Because it is often impossible to tell which patients have infectious diseases, you should avoid direct contact with the blood and body fluids of all patients.
  • Standard precautions are protective measures designed to prevent health care workers from coming into contact with germs carried by patients. One extremely effective step is properly washing your hands. You must also use the proper personal protective equipment for the situation, including gloves, gowns, eye protection, masks, and possibly other specialized equipment.
  • Infection control should be an important part of your daily routine. Be sure to follow the proper steps when dealing with potential exposure situations. You should know what to do if you are exposed to an airborne or bloodborne disease.
  • Cleaning your ambulance and equipment is part of protecting yourself and your patients. Decontamination of equipment and supplies that have been potentially exposed to body substances requires a different cleansing routine than just soap and water; sterilization may be required.
  • Keep yourself on alert while you are on duty. Do not be afraid to ask for the police to enter a scene first.
  • During your career, you will be exposed to many hazards. Some situations will be life-threatening. In these cases you should be properly protected, or you must avoid the situation altogether.
  • Scene hazards include traffic hazards, unstable vehicles, potential exposure to hazardous materials, electricity, and fire. Your safety is the most important consideration. Never approach a scene without first observing it from a safe distance.
  • The most dangerous calls are your everyday ones because you become comfortable with them and may let down your guard.
  • Your primary concern at any scene is safety—safety for yourself as well as those around you.
  • Safe emergency vehicle operation is crucial to the safety of the paramedic, crew, and patient.

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Common elements you will see on exams

Physical well being depends on

  • Sleep – 7-8 hours a day
  • Physical fitness and weight control
  • Good nutrition
  • Disease prevention: responsibility to serve as a role model
  • Cardiovascular disease: exercise, don’t smoke, control high BP and cholesterol, monitor triglycerides, reduce stress
  • Cancer: change or mutation in the nucleus of a cell. Watch for “CAUTION”
  • Infectious disease: airborne/bloodborne pathogens that include bacteria and virus. Washing hands is the most basic, effective way to prevent disease transmission.
  • Immunizations: EMS workers should be immunized for tetanus, diptheria, polio, hepatitis B, MMR, and influenza and also checked for TB exposure
  • BSI: first rule is to treat EVERYTHING as though it is infectious. PPE = gloves, gowns, goggles, masks
  • Exposure – to blood or bodily fluids should be reported immediately to receiving hospital and designated officer
  • Cleaning: washing with soap and water, disinfecting: cleaning and using a disinfectant to kill microorganisms (1:10 bleach to water solution), sterilization: using physical (heat) or chemical methods to kill all microorganisms on an object.

Mental Wellbeing

  • Stress and anxiety – stress is from physical, chemical or emotional factors
  • Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) – organized, formal peer mental health support network and process
    • (CISD) Debriefing – 24-72 hours afterwards
    • Defusing – 8 hours afterwards

Audio on safety and well being.

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