EMS workers are four times more likely to suffer work-related injuries, compared to workers in other occupations.
EMS Injury Rates are High
Workers employed in emergency medical services (EMS) face high injury rates. On average, 22,000 EMT workers end up in hospital emergency departments each year for work-related injuries resulting in chronic pain, emotional distress, and disabilities. In many cases, injuries have life-altering or fatal consequences.
Due to the nature of work duties, EMS workers have an inherent risk for on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Whether responding to 911 calls or transporting ill patients, EMS workers are exposed to circumstances that increase their risks for illness, injury, and life-threatening conditions. When EMS injuries occur, Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers often see a pattern of recurring injuries caused by the following conditions.
Due to transporting patients, EMS workers are exposed to constant body motions including lifting, twisting and turning, bending, climbing, and stooping. These repetitive movements are responsible for frequent sprains and strains, pulled muscles, and torn ligaments. Chronic neck and back pain is the number one injury seen by Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers.
Exposure to Harmful Substances
The second leading cause of EMS injuries is exposure to harmful substances like blood, saliva, and bacteria from open wounds. About one-fifth of such injuries are caused by needle sticks, followed by patients coughing and spitting. Although EMS workers must wear protective clothing, gloves and face shields, exposure still occurs.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
In 40 percent of slips, trips, and falls, EMS workers are going up or down stairs or getting in or out of an ambulance. When patients require stretchers or must be carried down flights of stairs, the risk of falls jumps to 50 percent. When patients require mobility aids or are confined to wheelchairs, falls are more frequent.
EMS transport is very dangerous for workers caring for patients in the rear of the ambulance because they are not confined by seat belts. When driving at high speeds, EMS workers are often injured by traffic collisions and sudden stops. During the winter, Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers witness EMS injuries caused by slick roads and icy conditions.
In some cases, EMS workers face injury risks from patients under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or who need to be restrained for safety. Although rare, EMS workers can suffer severe or fatal injuries from gunshots, knife wounds, and other acts of violence.