Wait times, injuries, exhaustion, acute stress: Poll identifies major concerns for paramedics | National Union of Public and General Employees

Wait times, injuries, exhaustion, acute stress: Poll identifies major concerns for paramedics

“Paramedics have been extremely vocal in the recent past about issues that impact on safety and patient care and clearly the results of this survey underline we have reason for concern,” said MGEU President Lois Wales

ambulanceWinnipeg (06 April 2012) - Ambulance-based paramedics in Manitoba are struggling to deal with long hours, increasing workplace injuries due to improper equipment, acute and traumatic stress, lengthy emergency room wait times, and difficult or aggressive patients, according to a new poll released. As a result of factors like equipment and fatigue, patient care can be put at risk.

The poll, conducted by Viewpoints Research on behalf the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU/NUPGE), the union representing the vast majority of paramedics in Manitoba, surveyed 346 paramedics or approximately one-third of all paramedics working in the field.

“Paramedics have been extremely vocal in the recent past about issues that impact on safety and patient care and clearly the results of this survey underline we have reason for concern,” said MGEU President Lois Wales. “It is incumbent on the Province of Manitoba to begin the real work of taking action to address these issues for all concerned.”

Significant issues from the survey include the following:

  • Wait times to process patients at hospitals are too long (89% of paramedics agree);
  • Paramedics’ injuries are increasing as equipment and patients get heavier (93% agree);
  • Volume of work means you miss meals and other breaks (83% agree);
  • Extreme fatigue is increasing as a result of combined standby and shift work (75% agree); and
  • New equipment that could protect paramedics better is not being used (72% agree);

Chris Broughton, President of Paramedics of Winnipeg, MGEU Local 911, said, “Of all the workplace issues we saw in this poll, clearly the most significant one for paramedics are lift injuries and that’s definitely something the Province, through the regional health authorities, can do something about.”

Lift injuries were revealed as the single most common cause of injuries for paramedics, as identified by 82 per cent of respondents. The procurement of power-lift stretchers, which goes a long way to reducing the repetitive stress and strain on paramedics, has been requested on several occasions by paramedics through health and safety committees and through collective bargaining. Paramedics believe all stretchers in Manitoba should be power-lift stretchers.

“The Province of Manitoba has been promising a comprehensive review of emergency medical services for two years now and we’d like the see them proceed more quickly in making that happen,” said Wayne Chacun, a rural paramedic and MGEU Technical Professional Paramedical component director.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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