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Long shifts may increase dangers for EMS workers

Louisiana paramedics may be familiar with the results of a recent study concerning the dangers of emergency medical services employees who take on lengthy shifts. The results of the study found that these employees face greater chances for suffering an injury or illness when they work long shifts. In fact, when compared with EMS employees who work 12 hours or less, the risk jumps to 60 percent for employees taking on longer shifts.

To find out if extended hours has an impact on EMS employees, researchers took three years to study 1 million shift schedules of 4,000 workers. In addition, they analyzed nearly 1,000 occupational health records from 14 large U.S. EMS agencies. From the information, researchers concluded that EMS employees are significantly more likely to incur an illness or injury whenever they work extended shifts, especially compared with their coworkers who worked shorter shifts. They also found that risks double whenever employees pull 24-hour shifts as opposed to those taking shifts of eight hours or less.

To work for the EMS, people must be able to provide medical treatment under situations that can be chaotic at times. Their job also requires them to be physically capable of lifting and transporting patients. Under these circumstances, taking on shifts that extend to 24 hours may not only increase their personal health risks but could also affect the care of their patients.

People who acquire an injury or illness directly associated with their employment may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The benefits may provide a percentage of wages lost as well as medical treatment. An attorney can often be of assistance throughout the process.

Source: US News, "Long Shifts Linked to Increased Injury Risk for EMS Workers", Mary Dallas, Sept. 15, 2015

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