4 Ways to Mitigate COVID-19 Concerns as an EMS Provider
In a 2020 poll, 34% of EMS workers reported concerns about running out of PPE, 24% reported worries about getting infected with COVID-19, and 20% reported worries about infecting someone else. The threat of COVID-19 is top of mind for those in EMS who come in contact with uncontrolled environments while providing emergency care.
How can you mitigate risks during this stressful time? Here are a few helpful tips.
Stick to Infection Control Best Practices
Refresh yourself regularly about infection control best practices. These include 1) properly washing your hands, 2) wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, goggles, shields, gowns, and gloves, 3) properly disposing of equipment, 4) regular and frequent sanitization, and 5) knowing what to do if you are exposed. These precautions can sometimes feel repetitive, especially after working a long shift, but it’s important to stay vigilant to protect yourself, your family, and your patients.
Expand Medical Knowledge
EMS workers have unique challenges, including having to make interventions with limited information. The CDC recommends all personnel receive job-specific education and refresher courses regularly. ACLS accredited courses provide the latest in medical knowledge and best practices, while online training, including safety training, can provide a safe yet comprehensive education. As an EMS frontline worker, you need to be able to make rapid decisions. Continually refreshing your skills will help you stay armed with the information you need to tackle each unique case.
Despite being armed with knowledge, the added stress of recent protocols can make your job difficult. Ryan Kelley says that self-care is critical when working during a pandemic. He offers these tips to manage stress while working during a pandemic:
- Write in a journal or talk to a friend to process emotions.
- Maintain proper nutrition and get plenty of sleep.
- Take a break from watching the news.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Remember working all the time isn’t necessarily the best contribution.
Proper staffing is also a concern during COVID-19. As workers get sick or are put in quarantine, it can lead to inadequate staffing. The CDC recommends open communication between all departments to ensure all shortages are addressed. It also recommends that EMS workers let their supervisors know if any transportation or housing needs arise, especially if self-isolation or quarantining becomes an issue. While the CDC recommends that no workers are given unnecessary time off, they state, “There should be consideration for the mental health benefits of time off.”
Keeping up-to-date on the ever-expanding medical field, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is critical. If you are struggling to recertify, we can help. Our ACLS, PALS, and BLS online courses provide the flexibility you need to maintain proper work-life balance while training safely from home. You can easily earn your BLS certification online or get your BLS recertification anytime, anywhere it works best for you.
- Interim Recommendations for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points/Emergency Communication Centers (PSAP/ECCs) in the United States During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic. CDC.gov. Updated July 15, 2020. Accessed November 5, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-for-ems.html
- Kelley R. Self-care is critical for managing stress levels in EMTs and paramedics responding to COVID-19. EMS1. March 20, 2020. https://www.ems1.com/mental-health/articles/self-care-is-critical-for-managing-stress-levels-in-emts-and-paramedics-responding-to-covid-19-tXvclhD64dZnqPqY/
- Sinning,S. Poll Call: What is your biggest COVID-19 EMS-related concern? EMS1. April 3, 2020. https://www.ems1.com/coronavirus-covid-19/articles/poll-call-what-is-your-biggest-covid-19-ems-related-concern-7izawfS8WwTlBOI1/
- Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages. CDC.gov. Updated July 17, 2020. Accessed November 5, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/mitigating-staff-shortages.html