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Reducing fatigue in the EMS industry

Because emergency medical service workers are so prone to fatigue, there has been a call for new guidelines to address the situation. The goal is to improve working conditions and safety for both EMS professionals and patients throughout Georgia and the U.S.

The guidelines are the product of a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the National Association of State EMS Officials. In preparation, researchers studied the conclusions of more than 38,000 pieces of literature regarding fatigue among EMS workers. Reports have shown that roughly half of all EMS personnel sleep less than six hours a day. In addition, more than half suffer from poor sleep and lack of recovery between shifts. This affects them negatively whether they're driving an ambulance or caring for a patient.

Researchers presented this literature to a panel of experts who then proposed five recommendations. Facilities should first of all train their EMS personnel on risk management. Secondly, they should take sleepiness and fatigue surveys to determine how prevalent and persistent the issue is. Thirdly, they should refrain from giving 24-hour shifts. Employees should also be allowed plenty of caffeine as well as moments for on-duty napping.

When EMS workers are injured, they can file for workers' compensation benefits to see if they'll be reimbursed for any medical expenses, lost wages and future lost income. The injuries may have long-term effects that should be taken into account. That's why hiring a lawyer with an in-house team of investigators and other experts could be a smart idea.

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