While working as an EMT or a paramedic, we often find ourselves in confined areas with large patients that we must lift and move. Beyond the patients, we carry heavy equipment, move large objects to access patients, and twist in unusual ways to get the job done. Because of this, we are often told how to lift or otherwise move heavy objects. You know the whole “lift with your legs” and “carry objects close to the body” spiel that has been thrown at us since our first days of EMS school. If we all know it, then why does the CDC tell us that in 2012, over 24,000 EMS providers were injured on the job? Because not enough of us are staying fit for the job at hand and let “station life” weaken us.
Of the 24,000+ injuries, sprains and strains were the most common. This means that we are either lifting or moving patients and objects wrong, or we are moving objects that are too heavy in the first place. To make the numbers worse, just like the rest of the nation, the leading cause of on-duty death for EMS workers is heart failure. With the rate and type of injuries combined with the fact that heart failure is the number one killer of EMS workers, it would seem that the focus on fitness is not what it should be. It can be hard to stay fit when working long hours, have little time to eat much less exercise, and dealing with other work related stressors. Because of this, it is important for us to look out for each other’s fitness as much as we look out for each other on a call.
As often as possible, we should be grabbing one of our partners and burning some fat. Some pushups, sit-ups, and a run around the station can go a long way to help build core, arm, and cardio-vascular strength, all of which are necessary for good health and the ability to move heavy objects.
With smart phone technology as prevalent as it is, there are a number of workout apps that are geared towards specific jobs and lifestyles, including emergency medical providers. Some of the apps available have associated fees, whether one time or recurring, while others are free to obtain and use. Whatever you choose, be sure to use it every chance you can.
No one can make you stay fit but you. You can help your partners, though, by providing encouragement and setting the example. If your workplace doesn’t have a gym or other workout provisions, bring some in. A few dumbbells, jump ropes, and other small items are easy to store, easy to use, and provide for a great way to stay in shape. How embarrassing would it be to work as an emergency medical provider and suffer a heart attack on the job? I don’t know about you, but that sounds terrible to me, well beyond the fact of the heart attack itself.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.