Whether it’s providing first aid, removing people from life-threatening situations, tending to the sick or speeding on scene to an emergency, a paramedic’s daily duties are far from an easy feat.
While praised for hard work and a selflessness to help others, paramedics are also more prone to suffer in silence – and without the right tools available to help, we face a huge problem.
Discover three of the top reason’s paramedics decide to quit, and how we can take steps to improve the quality of life for first responders.
As workers on the frontline of disasters, accidents and emergencies, paramedics are the first responders to an array of stressful situations. Combined with exposure to confronting scenes and an often-unpredictable day to day working environment, paramedics are prone to taking on mental stress from which it can be difficult to recover. Studies have proven paramedics face higher levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and fatigue.
Without access to tailored mental health care and a continued workplace mental health care plan, paramedics run the risk of stress being the factor in a decision to quit the workforce. While you can not remove stress itself as being part of a paramedic’s career, we can provide professionals with the tools they need for accurate support and treatment. A workplace mental health plan, combined with access to peer-support groups and techniques for stress release are all effective means to empower emergency services workers with the tools needed for stress reduction and appropriate support.
In a similar manner to stress, burnout is also one of the top reason’s paramedics quit. No strangers to long working hours, many paramedics are tasked with shifts of up to 12 hours, rotating on both day and night shifts. Burnout (the physical and psychological side effect of fatigue associated with work) is linked to workforce departure, exhaustion, poor patient care and decreased employee wellbeing. Internationally paramedics have been shown to have the highest rate of burnout of any health profession.
To prevent burnout in our paramedics, it’s important to incorporate a system of care into our emergency services departments. Ensuring workers are not subject to unnecessary overtime hours and access to time off when needed is extremely important. Additionally, access to mental health care systems such as counselling or therapy can be an effective means to gauge stress levels and prevent burnout.
From car accidents to injuries, ill health and unexpected emergencies, paramedics are often the first on the scene of traumatic situations. Being well trained to deal with horrific scenes as a result of accidents and disasters, paramedics utilise a cool and calm demeanour, focusing on the job at hand as a means of emotional distance.
Whilst resilience plays a key part in a paramedic’s job, left untreated, the aftermath of trauma can often have dire consequences. Emergency services professionals such as paramedics need to ensure they are met with outlets for both physical and mental stress. This includes professional support if needed, combined with a balanced lifestyle of healthy activity and socialisation.
If you want to find out more about how we can best support our emergency services workers, secure your spot at the 2019 Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference this June.