This year, EMS Week runs from May 21-27, and it’s the perfect time to reflect on the immense value of EMS providers in our society, and the ongoing challenges they face while addressing critical health needs and saving lives. The week also presents an opportunity to educate providers’ friends, families and community members about the profession, and key things they should know about the EMS providers in their lives.
In honor of EMS Week, we’ve put together a list of common provider challenges, safety tips and resources to promote ongoing awareness and education.
Among the many challenges EMS providers face daily, one of the most prominent ones is stress and emotional exhaustion. EMS providers are constantly exposed to stressful situations, such as abuse cases, assaults, motor vehicle crashes and deaths. These high-stress emergencies take a toll on providers’ mental health, contributing to high levels of emotional unrest and exhaustion. This emotional turmoil can very quickly lead to burnout and a host of other mental challenges when providers are unable to seek help or find other mental health resources.
Another challenge EMS providers encounter due to the fast-paced, high-intensity nature of their job is the need to make high-stakes decisions in a matter of seconds. Providers make hundreds of decisions over the course of a work shift, and they often have to operate like Sherlock Holmes, quickly piecing multiple clues together to determine the best course of action for treating and transporting each patient. Even the most experienced providers can sometimes miss essential clues about a patient when working fast and making snap judgment calls.
Safety risks and tips
EMS providers encounter countless safety hazards on the job that can put their patients’ lives — and their own lives — at risk. There are various safety tips providers should keep top-of-mind when navigating patient emergencies.
- Observe your surroundings regularly
- Involve the police in violent situations
- Use the safety gear and equipment at your disposal
- Watch out for hazardous areas
- Drive carefully
- Inspect vehicles before driving them
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid distractions as much as possible while at work
Resources for providers and the public
There are tons of valuable resources available to EMS providers looking to improve their knowledge and management of patient scenarios, and their efforts to reduce stress and emotional exhaustion from their job and optimize safety for themselves and patients.
A few resources providers should have on-hand include:
- EMS mental health guides and hotlines for American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and Safe Call Now
- EMS focus webinars on various topics including telemedicine, continuing education standards, improving patient and provider safety, and enhancing ambulance safety
- EMS safety resources from the National EMS Safety Council, such as Ground Ambulance Standards & EMS Safety, National Traffic Incident Management Responder Training, Stop the Bleed, and Toward Zero Deaths: National Strategy on Highway Safety
There are also many helpful resources available for raising awareness and educating the public about EMS services.
Some examples include:
- Public safety or injury prevention events
- CPR classes
- Survivor summits
- Local media stories related to EMS
- Social media efforts
Whether you’re an EMS provider yourself, you know a provider, or you are a member of the public looking to learn more about the significance of emergency medical services, EMS Week 2023 is a great time to take advantage of the many resources available on EMS services and the medical field. Learn more about EMS Week events and resources at ems.gov’s website.