In most cases, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics pursue their careers because they have a calling to serve others. However, the reality is that professions in the emergency medical services (EMS) sector have some of the highest burnout rates. In fact, the 2021 EMS Trend Report cited that only 25% of respondents “feel no symptoms of burnout and still feel joy in work.” This means that the majority reported feeling stressed, with signs of reduced energy from their highly demanding work.
As one of the professions that was hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline workers such as EMTs and paramedics bore the brunt of the disease along with their co-workers in the medical sector. In the initial stages of the pandemic, many workers in the medical field got infected or quit due to the punishing demands of the job during that time. Unfortunately, the issues plaguing emergency responders didn’t end there. The aftermath of the pandemic and the consequent economic downturn led to staffing shortages that were felt at a global level.
Clearly, there’s a need to boost morale within the EMS ranks. Efforts and investments have to be made to empower paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, as well as other employees working in EMS organizations for better work engagement. With improvements in their working conditions and work expectations, EMS teams will have better employee retention rates and fewer turnovers.
How can you empower your own EMS personnel so they can gain better job satisfaction and recover their motivation in this critical time? This short guide will aim to discuss the basics.
Invest in Modern EMS Software Solutions
One of the goals of technology is to help modern organizations carry out their tasks. In EMS departments and organizations, for example, software solutions are valuable tools that can help workers with documentation and reporting.
It can be a tedious and draining job for an EMT or paramedic to fill out paperwork multiple times when they can just encode the information once into an ePCR system. When it comes to decision making, EMS reporting software can to generate reports for billing purposes, electronic patient care reporting or ePCR, payroll, fleet maintenance, and more. However, this requires that the EMS reporting software is integrated with all those functional departments mentioned.
Provide Needed Tools and Equipment
EMS workers need the proper equipment and tools to perform their jobs effectively, efficiently, and safely. Since their work involves transporting patients to hospitals, they are at high-risk for back and knee injuries, sprains, slip and fall injuries, and exposure to infectious diseases or harmful substances. As such, they need the proper equipment to assist in lifting the patients, and they need to be issued personal protective equipment or PPEs to protect themselves from exposure to pathogens and chemicals.
In every industry, technological innovations can be powerful tools that can help workers become more productive and efficient. The same is true for the EMS industry. Over the years, modern tools and equipment have been developed to help workers in EMS departments and organizations, including hydraulic stretcher systems for lifting patients on stretchers without risking injury to the worker. Another example is the automatic chest compressor that was developed to help increase patients’ survival rates. These tools and equipment alleviate the pressure being felt by EMS personnel who may be fatigued or may be the only responder available on the scene. Indeed, having these state-of-the-art tools and equipment can build confidence in EMTs and paramedics since they are prepared and equipped to handle emergencies without much risk to their own health.
Develop Fatigue Management Programs
Due to the unpredictable nature of the jobs of EMS workers, they often battle fatigue during their shifts. Lack of sleep is often a factor that threatens an EMT or paramedic’s safety on the job, not to mention the patient’s health outcome as well. That’s why health institutions like EMS organizations need to implement an effective fatigue management program. The program should address major issues such as lack of sleep and poor physical fitness, among others.
Implementing countermeasures to combat these issues is key to improving the safety and job effectiveness of EMS workers. In the case of improving sleep hygiene and overall fitness, measures can include encouraging naps and break times, providing equipment or classes for physical fitness, and finding ways to engage in mentally stimulating exercises.
Having alert and ready EMS responders is critical to the high-stakes job that they do. As such, it makes sense for an EMS department or organization to prioritize the development of fatigue management programs for their employees.
Empower Your EMS Workers by Being Attentive to Their Needs
Nothing is more empowering to any worker than being heard and listened to. When EMS workers talk about their challenges and suggestions for workplace improvement, EMS department managers should listen with an open mind. Workers need to know that their opinions matter and that they can have a say about their work conditions. Having open, honest, and respectful communication with employees goes a long way to reassuring them that they are valued members of your EMS team.
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