The California workers’ compensation program provides comfort to employees in all industries who know they can claim medical expenses and lost wages in the event of a workplace accident. However, for workers in some high-risk occupations, this financial support is critical. These dangerous occupations include paramedics and other EMT workers who never know where the next ambulance trip will take them.
If you are a paramedic, you will know that there are times when you have to suppress your own pain while you save the lives of others. Your duties pose many health risks, and ignoring your injuries might jeopardize your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
What are the usual hazards faced by paramedics?
Every emergency may pose some danger. Calls can take you to outdoor or indoor environments, and you might have to work in dangerous circumstances that could include moving traffic, hazardous chemicals, antagonism from bystanders and more. The following hazards will likely be par for the course of your average workdays:
- Back injuries: Your activities expose you to an above-average level of musculoskeletal exertion. You will bend, kneel, and stretch excessively, while you must lift patients of all sizes and weights onto stretchers, load them into the ambulance and then out again when you get to the hospital. A significant percentage of injury claims every year involve paramedics with back injuries.
- Physical assault: You will never know what the reception will be as you rush to each emergency. Those present might be political extremists, hostile gang members and intoxicated or aggressive bystanders. Violence against EMTs and other health care workers has become quite common, and you might have to defend yourself while also trying to save a patient’s life.
- Hearing loss: Something you might not even have considered is your need for good hearing. Your ability to hear a cry for help in situations such as collapsed buildings could save a life. However, the exposure to engine noise, air horns, power tools and sirens can be detrimental to your hearing.
- Blood-borne pathogens: Your job will not allow you to escape exposure to blood. You will assist and stabilize bleeding patients without any knowledge of their conditions. You will perform life-saving procedures using sharp instruments, surgical needles and more. Blood-borne pathogens from viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV that causes AIDS can be present in blood or bodily fluids of infected patients. Wearing the necessary protective gear is vital to keep you safe from infections.
- Psychological stress: As a paramedic, you will continuously deal with situations in which your decisions can determine life or death. You will have to make split-second decisions upon arrival at an accident scene or another emergency. The mental and emotional trauma that this responsibility causes can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD typically causes depression, nightmares, severe anxiety and other psychological problems.
You have the right to seek financial relief through the workers’ compensation insurance program of California. However, you might have problems proving that some of the harm you suffered is work-related. Fortunately, you can explore the options available to navigate the administrative and legal proceedings of the claims process.