Fatigue can be a major contributor to workplace hazards for Pennsylvania paramedics. It can make vehicle operation particularly dangerous, and ambulance driving is a major part of EMS work. Because of the impact of fatigue, the National Association of State EMS Officials has joined with the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center to create guidelines that aim to lower its prevalence.
Researchers involved in shaping the recommendations looked at over 38,000 documents and reports that showed evidence that EMS workers experience widespread fatigue on the job that could seriously inhibit safety. Over 50 percent of all EMS workers have reported experiencing severe physical and mental fatigue. Many more report poor quality of sleep and little recovery time between shifts, and half routinely get fewer than six hours of sleep.
The researchers emphasized five primary actions to help improve workplace safety related to fatigue for EMS workers. These include using surveys about sleepiness and fatigue to track the problem, limiting shifts to less than 24 hours at one time, making caffeinated beverages accessible, allowing space and time for napping on duty when not on a call, and providing training on managing risk. The researchers noted that fatigue is not limited to only one type of EMS worker and is widespread throughout the industry. The lack of guidelines and standards around fatigue could lead to serious accidents when driving an ambulance or other emergency vehicle when a worker who is too tired must get behind the wheel.
EMS workers who have been injured in a workplace accident may face ongoing disabilities. A workers’ compensation lawyer can often assist injured workers with the preparation and filing of a claim.