If you are a paramedic in Minnesota, you are one of a special group of people who put their lives on the line to save others every day. Furthermore, you likely encounter situations that can have a long-term effect on your physical and mental health. Paramedics face occupational hazards that are unique to their jobs.
Every time you respond to an emergency, you race toward unknown circumstances that might include hazardous chemicals, violent bystanders or other dangers. Once you get there, you might have to make quick life-or-death decisions with hardly any information on which to base them.
Typical hazards paramedics face
The nature of your job makes many hazards unanticipated, and you have to deal with them as you encounter them. However, the following are some of the known risks faced by paramedics:
- Psychological challenges: Regardless of the inner strength you may have, knowing that lives or deaths are in your hands may cause accumulation of stress and trauma that might lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. You may suffer depression, severe anxiety, nightmares and develop a poor sleep pattern.
- Physical assault: Unpredictable circumstances can await you at any emergency scene. Intoxicated bystanders or members of street gangs may become violent, and physical assaults on paramedic have become common.
- Exposure to blood: Blood-borne pathogens pose real risks to paramedics. While treating trauma victims, you will work with sharp needles and surgical instruments that pose puncture hazards. Furthermore, victims of car accidents or violent assaults may cause exposure to blood and bodily fluids. You will be at risk of infection by the hepatitis viruses and HIV, which causes AIDS. If you work without a facemask and eye protection, splashing bodily fluid or blood may get onto your face and into your eyes.
- Musculoskeletal hazards: The typical kneeling, bending, stretching, pulling and lifting that form a significant part of your job can cause sprains, strains and torn muscles. Lifting and carrying patients can cause overexertion that could result in long-term back problems, which seem to be par for the course for paramedics.
- Excessive noise: You may not even realize how much you rely on your hearing to alert you to calls for help or other sound cues. However, the sounds of air horns and sirens along with the noise of the power tools you use for extrication or forced entry can cause severe harm to your hearing — damage that is irreversible.
Who is on your side?
While you may find comfort in knowing that the Minnesota workers’ compensation insurance system is on your side, proving any of these physical or psychological injuries to be work related might be a challenge. Fortunately, you can utilize the skills of a workers’ compensation attorney to handle your claim for benefits. An experienced lawyer can ensure the necessary medical reports and other motivating documents accompany the claim in pursuit of the maximum level of compensation.