This is a guest post by EMS Safety Expert Jim Love. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
I am typing this from my hotel in the Town of Tullamore in Ireland. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit an Irish ambulance builder and converter. I saw things I have never seen before in over 35 years of EMS experience in the US. Things like a Fiat ambulance. How about a stick shift full-sized ambulance? I can’t imagine driving a stick shift ambulance. One thing I saw, and I’ve seen in pictures from Europe, are patient loading ramps.
Powered loading ramps, hydraulic loading systems, and winch powered systems
It seems in Europe there is an aversion to EMTs and Medics doing much patient lifting. Imagine just rolling a stretcher onto a ramp, pushing a button and there you are able to roll the cot in and lock it down. No muss, no fuss-no lifting.
In the US we look to powered cots to ease the burden we carry – to reduce the number of repeated heavy and sometimes awkward lifts. There are plusses and minuses to these cots. One minus is the added weight we must lift when the cot needs to be carried and or lifted. I look forward to the time when there is a powered solution that is light, quick and versatile.
Injury Prevention Tips
Until then there are some rules and Tips to follow to help prevent injury.
- Exercise: your job is not an exercise program
- Manage your weight: the heavier you are the more prone you are to musculoskeletal injury.
- Get plenty of rest: fatigue is a sure-fire way to assure injury.
- Don’t smoke: smoking restricts blood flow, decrease oxygen and nutrient flow to muscles and other tissues.
- Know your limits
- Back straight
- Head up- eyes forward
- Knees bent- lift with your legs
- Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift
- Communicate and time your lift with your partner
Jim Love began his EMS career in 1974. Jim was the National Director of Safety and Risk for AMR. Jim is currently enjoying consulting on EMS safety. He maintains an EMS Safety site and blog, Emsafety.net, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.