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Each year, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel respond to over 30 million calls for assistance in the United States alone. These EMS personnel have a rate of occupational fatality comparable to firefighters and police, and a rate of non-fatal injuries that is higher than the rates for police and firefighters and much higher than the national average for all workers. In Australia, no occupational group has a higher injury or fatality rate than EMS personnel. Emergency Medical Services personnel in the US have a rate of occupational violence injuries that is about 22-times higher than the average for all workers. On average, more than one EMS provider in the US is killed every year in an act of violence.
The objective of this epidemiological study was to identify the risks and factors associated with work-related physical violence against EMS personnel internationally.
An online survey, based on a tool developed by the World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva, Switzerland), collected responses from April through November 2016.
There were 1,778 EMS personnel respondents from 13 countries; 69% were male and 54% were married. Around 55% described their primary EMS work location as “urban.” Approximately 68% described their employer as a “public provider.” The majority of respondents were from the US.
When asked “Have you ever been physically attacked while on-duty?” 761 (65%) of the 1,172 who answered the question answered “Yes.” In almost 10% (67) of those incidents, the perpetrator used a weapon. Approximately 90% of the perpetrators were patients and around five percent were patient family members. The influence of alcohol and drugs was prevalent. Overall, men experienced more assaults than women, and younger workers experienced more assaults than older workers.
In order to develop and implement measures to increase safety, EMS personnel must be involved with the research and implementation process. Furthermore, EMS agencies must work with university researchers to quantify agency-level risks and to develop, test, and implement interventions in such a way that they can be reliably evaluated and the results published in peer-reviewed journals.
MaguireBJ, BrowneM, O’NeillBJ, DealyMT, ClareD, O’MearaP. International Survey of Violence Against EMS Personnel: Physical Violence Report. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(5):526–531.
Paramedics respond to emergency scenes in often uncontrolled settings without being aware of potential risks. This makes paramedicine one of the most dangerous occupations. One of these dangers is the risk of contracting infectious diseases. Research in this area is predominantly focused on compliance in the use of protective equipment, attitudes and perceptions of paramedics, infectious disease policy, and exposure rates to blood and body fluids. The purpose of this scoping review was to determine what is known about the impact of infectious disease on the health of paramedics.
Using the Arskey and O’Malley methodological framework, a scoping review was undertaken, which allows for a broad search of the available evidence.
The literature search identified eight articles for review that reported on paramedic exposure trends; the lack of reported blood-borne infections contracted, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); instances of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) infections; and the higher prevalence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal infections amongst paramedics.
Exposure to infectious diseases is decreasing, yet it remains significant. The decrease is attributed to prevention strategies; however, paramedic knowledge and attitudes as well as the uncontrolled environment paramedics work in can be a barrier. Contraction of infectious diseases is generally low; exceptions to this are MRSA colonization, influenza, and SARS. Paramedics are at greater risk of acquiring these infectious diseases compared to the general public. The effect on the health of paramedics is not well reported.
ThomasB, O’MearaP, SpeltenE. Everyday Dangers – The Impact Infectious Disease has on the Health of Paramedics: A Scoping Review. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(2):217–223.
Accurate estimation of a patient's age and weight are skills expected of all healthcare clinicians, including paramedics and nurses. It is necessary because patients may be unable to communicate such information due to unconsciousness or an altered state of conscious. Age and weight estimation influence calculation for medication dosages, defibrillation, equipment sizing, and other invasive procedures such as intubation. The objective of this study was to identify whether undergraduate paramedic and nursing students were able to accurately estimate a patient's age and weight based on digital patient photos.
A prospective, observational study involving undergraduate paramedic and nursing students from two Australian universities was used to estimate the age and weight of seven patients (adult and pediatric). Each patient image appeared in a PowerPointTM presentation for 15 seconds, followed by a short pause, with the next patient image commencing automatically.
The findings demonstrated variable accuracy in age and weight estimation of the patients. Age estimations of pediatric patients were more accurate than estimations for adult patients. The majority of patient weights were under-estimated, with university undergraduate students in one university displaying similar estimations to the other university counterparts.
Results from this study identified variations in students' ability to accurately estimate a patient's age and weight. This study shows that consideration should be given to age and weight estimation education, which could be incorporated into undergraduate healthcare curriculum.
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