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EMS worker safety the focus of new guidelines

Paramedics are prone to work-related fatigue, which in turn makes them vulnerable to accidents. Research shows that half of EMS workers get less than six hours of sleep a day, while more than half report low sleep quality and poor recovery between shifts. EMS workers in Georgia and across the nation will be pleased to know, then, that guidelines are being created to address this issue.

They will be prepared by the National Association of State EMS Officials in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Researchers have already studied more than 38,000 pieces of literature showing how fatigue affects EMS workers, and they presented the results to a panel of experts.

The panel made five recommendations to manage the risk. Facilities should take fatigue and sleepiness surveys of its employees. Second, they should educate employees on the risks and train them on how to manage those risks. They should also limit shifts to less than 24 hours, allow for nap times on location, and provide caffeine. Fatigue doesn't just affect EMS workers when they are driving an ambulance. It can also affect their decision-making abilities when caring for patients. It is not limited to one specific EMS operation.

When fatigue leads to an accident and a paramedic is injured on the job, workers' compensation benefits will generally be available regardless of whose fault it was. Benefits can include the payment or reimbursement of medical expenses and in some cases the payment of a percentage of wages that were lost during the recovery period. An attorney can often assist with the preparation and submission of the required claim documentation.

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