If you are one of the brave paramedics in South Bay or another area in California who risk their lives every day to save others, each day will be like a box of chocolates — you will never know where the next call will take you. What you will know is that, every time you rush to prevent an accident from becoming a tragedy, you might put your health, or even your life, on the line.
For most paramedics, making a difference outshines the dangers. However, learning how to deal with the potential risks might keep you safe.
You will not escape this danger, because exposure to blood-borne pathogens is par for the course for paramedics, for the following reasons:
- Needlestick or puncture injuries as you perform advanced procedures on trauma victims cause exposure to blood and bodily fluids.
- Treating bleeding patients without knowing their health conditions is a significant risk.
- The infections you risk include the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
- Wearing personal protective equipment is crucial, including gloves, face masks and eye goggles. Bodily fluid and blood can splash into your eyes or mouth.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says a significant percentage of work-related back injuries in all industries involve paramedics. This is why:
- The countless times you have to bend, kneel and stretch each day can cause musculoskeletal disorders.
- Lifting patients of different sizes and weights onto stretchers and into the ambulance, and out again when you reach the hospital, puts significant levels of strain on your back.
Studies show that the risk of assault on paramedics, health care and social workers is five times higher than for all other industries. The studies also noted the following:
- Paramedics often rush to scenes at which no police officers are present.
- Upon arrival, you may encounter aggressive bystanders.
- Sometimes, you will deal with intoxicated patients, their friends, family or bystanders, and aggression often goes hand-in-hand with alcohol.
Safety authorities say paramedics suffer significant mental stresses as the result of disturbed sleep patterns, along with bureaucratic and authoritarian management structures. The following circumstances exacerbate the levels of stress in paramedics:
- Daily dealings with life-and-death situations could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Making split-second decisions upon arrival at a scene also contributes to the trauma because those decisions might determine whether a patient lives or dies.
- The by-products of work-related stress are nightmares, severe anxiety and depression.
With the level of physical and psychological demands of your job, the risk of missing work due to the work-related injury or illness increases. How will you cope with medical bills and lost wages?
Fortunately, the California workers’ compensation insurance program has the backs of injured and ill workers. Some injured workers find the benefits claims process a daunting prospect at a time when they would prefer to focus on recovering and getting back to work. You might find comfort in learning that you are free to utilize the skills of an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can assist throughout the process in pursuit of maximum allowed compensation.