If you are a paramedic in Pennsylvania, you may have to face numerous hazards during every shift you work. A significant part of the stress related to your job will stem from the unpredictability. You will never know where the next emergency call will take you. What will be the circumstances and the surroundings? Will there be threats to your health and your safety, and will you have to make life-and-death decisions?
Furthermore, how many more patients will you have to lift onto stretchers before your back gives out? With all the risks you face as a paramedic every day, the fact that the workers' compensation system will at least pay your medical expenses and lost wages if you should suffer any work-related injuries might provide some comfort.
Typical hazards faced by paramedics
No one can afford to be off work for long periods because of the financial impact. However, the following hazards will likely not be unfamiliar in the lives of you and your colleagues:
- Back injuries: Your job entails repetitive bending, stretching and kneeling along with the lifting and moving of patients of varying weights. You have to move the patient in position for stabilization, and then lift him or her onto a stretcher, push or carry it to the ambulance, and lift the stretchered patient into the vehicle and out again as you reach the medical facility. Doing this repeatedly throughout every shift puts a severe toll on your back, leg and arm muscles.
- Psychological stress: The constant dealing with life-threatening situations and death could cause mental and emotional trauma. Any critical decisions that you have to make within seconds of arriving at the scene of an emergency can exacerbate the stress. This can lead to poor sleep patterns filled with nightmares, anxiety, and depression.
- Blood-borne pathogens: In your profession, there is no getting away from the exposure to blood and bodily fluids of patients. You will not have any knowledge of their health conditions while you use sharp surgical instruments and needles when treating trauma patients. Viruses such as Hepatitis B and C along with the HIV virus that could cause AIDS will be constant threats to your health, and it is essential to wear eye protection, a facemask and gloves.
- Assaults: You might arrive at scenes where the bystanders are hostile or intoxicated. Members of opposing street gangs might surround you, or if it is a car accident, the dangers posed by the traffic could threaten your safety. Violence against health care workers is frequently included in news reports, and the likelihood of being a victim is high for paramedics.
- Hearing damage: You might not even be aware of the damage done to your hearing as you spend your days exposed to the sounds of engines, air horns, sirens, power tools and other excessive noise. This could be detrimental to your ability to hear calls for help in disasters such as building collapses.
Help is available
Dealing with severe injuries or an occupational illness can make it tough to navigate a workers' compensation claim. However, you can focus on getting better while utilizing available resources to handle all the complicated administrative and legal processes of filing benefits claims with the Pennsylvania workers' compensation insurance program.