First responders, by default, accept that injuries, disabilities, and even death are risks that invariably accompany the profession. Lifting and moving are among the most important activities in which EMS providers perform daily. The consequences of a misstep can be devastatingly long-lasting: Accounting for more than 20 percent of all workplace injuries in the U.S., back injuries pose a significant problem for firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics.
In 2014, there were over 21,000 EMS providers treated in hospital EDs, with over one-third being the result of overexertion of the provider. Half of that number was from lifting and moving the patient. The risk of injury among EMS providers is more than three times greater than risks among other private industry occupations: 349.9/10,000 vs. 122.2/10,000, based on data compiled by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Unfortunately, the EMS profession has dramatically lagged behind in research on safe lifting and moving practices. This has led to a deficiency in translating data-driven research into practice in order to minimize injuries among EMS professionals. As a result, the rates of injury have remained staggeringly high.
According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, more than 27,000 fire/EMS workers experienced on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Specifically, more than 21 percent of these injuries were comprised of lower-back injuries. Here’s an applicable, everyday example of such an injury:
You’re nearing the end of a long shift, and you’ve been running hard all day. Then, the call comes in: Respond to a home to assist a patient with an injury to a lower extremity. Once on-scene, you and your partner find the patient down in a bathtub, completely immobilized.
Time is short, so rather than heading back to the ambulance to retrieve a lifting tarp, you try to lift the patient up onto a spine board. That’s when it happens: There’s a pop in your back, immediately followed by sharp, stinging pain that permeates your lower-back region.
These kinds of incidents are becoming more and more prevalent: Based on data compiled by the International Association of Fire Fighters, 50 percent of line-of-duty claims and 50 percent of early retirements result from lower-back injuries. Injuries like these force departments to incur significantly high costs, which directly hinder staffing efforts.
The persistent back pain can be extremely difficult for injured fire/EMS professionals to deal with, both on- and off-duty. Lingering lower-back pain invades personal lives, making once-enjoyable activities unbearable. These injuries allow only light-duty assignments, which yield only two-thirds of the normal pay rate. Needless to say, this will result in stressful financial hardships.
Employers are also affected: Workers’ compensation payments will need to be made, and open positions will need to be backfilled with overtime shifts. These scenarios lead to augmented levels of provider fatigue, high costs, elevated numbers of patient-care errors, and higher risks of injuries to healthy members.
“As EMS providers, we are supposed to be the ones helping patients, not the ones becoming patients,” according to theEMSstore Merchandising Specialist and volunteer firefighter/EMT Amanda Keesey. “Scene awareness and safety is a must. No matter how small or large the patient is, using the proper lifting technique will help to prevent short-or long-term back injuries.”
What specialized equipment can be used to avoid improper-lifting techniques, lower-back injuries, and keep crews fit-for-duty at all times? The Graham Medical Megamover Transport Plus is designed especially for these reasons.
As a leading provider of quality, single-use medical products, Graham Medical is renowned for creating solutions that make emergency medical professionals’ jobs easier through improving efficiency. The cost-effective, compact, flexible Graham Medical Megamover Transport Plus is the preferred choice of EMS professionals. It’s ideal for any number of operations, including moving, transferring, or rescuing patients from inaccessible areas, such as uneven terrain, stairs, and more.
“When lifting a patient, we need to assess the scene, first and foremost,” Keesey said. “Using an incredible resource like the Graham Medical Megamover Transport Plus is the best way to combat injuries to ourselves and safely transport patients, all while nullifying the chances of further injuring them.”
With the Graham Medical Megamover Transport Plus, the chances are minimized for back injuries. Thanks to its non-woven, latex-free construction and 14 handles, crews can easily perform ergonomically sound lifting techniques, up to 1000 pounds. Plus, the Graham Medical Megamover Transport Plus is available with PowerGrip™ handles for improved comfort and durability. Additionally, it can easily be stored, deployed, and transported.
Crews will surely make it to retirement age with a body that can move without pain. The Graham Medical Megamover Transport Plus is available as a single unit or a case of 10 at theEMSstore.com.