Fatigue, both physical and mental, is a major risk for emergency medical service workers in New Jersey and across the nation. It can lead to accidents as well as poor decisions when providing patient care. This is why the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the National Association of State EMS Officials have come together to create guidelines protecting EMS workers.
Researchers analyzed over 38,000 pieces of literature showing the effects of fatigue on EMS workers. For example, recent studies found that half of all EMS workers get less than six hours of sleep a day. More than half report that the quality of their sleep is poor and that they do not feel adequately rested between shifts.
This literature was presented as evidence to a panel of experts. The panel subsequently gave five recommendations. First, EMS workers should be trained on fatigue risk management. Second, administrators of EMS organizations should limit shifts to less than 24 hours. To better manage the risks, administrators should send out surveys to all EMS personnel regarding their level of sleepiness and fatigue. Lastly, personnel should be allowed to nap while on duty and have easy access to caffeinated products.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available for those EMS workers who get hurt while on the job. If employer negligence contributed to an accident, legal counsel may advise the victim to file a personal injury cliam. A lawyer can bring in medical experts to determine if the injuries will lead to any long-term effects and then estimate a reasonable settlement. The attorney could also represent the client during all negotiations.