Ariel Jenkins, Director of Risk Control, Safety National and Kip Teitsort, President/CEO, DT4EMS LLC conducted a session at RIMS 2017 Annual Conference to discuss emergency medical service personnel and the violence they are exposed. Everyday they are threatened by assault, this attack could come from a violent patient, angry bystander or even an upset family member. The effects of being exposed to violence are anxiety, PTSD and insomnia.
According to the CDC the annual number of violent event that led to EMS individuals being treated in emergency rooms has increased from 2,100 in 2008 to almost 2,600 in 2014. Is “just suck it up” a valid management approach? How can responders recognize this potential risk to reduce the risk of violence against themselves. Some potential signs to look for are anxiousness, rapid speech, clenched jaw, fists opening and closing, flushed face, targeting stare, aggressive speech, and tucked chin/blade chin. Other potential signs of violence are verbally expressed anger and frustration, body language such as threatening gestures, signs of drug or alcohol use and the presence of a weapon. Law enforcement would call of these signs “a clue”.
Tips law enforcement should do is present a calm and caring attitude, don’t match their threats, don’t give orders, acknowledge the person’s feelings and avoid any behavior that may be interpreted as aggressive towards the individual.
Is workplace violence really an issue? YES!
The effects of being exposed to violence are anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, decreased job performance, and jaded mentality. Need to define what is real and reasonable. When first responders are faced with violence, they will respond. How they response is based on training or lack there of training. Large claims come out of this lack of training for how first responders should be trained to handle workplace violence.
Vicious cycle of violence in emergency medicine is similar to this: Violent encounter happens then lack of patient vs attacker recognition, then theory that it is part of the job, followed by mocking by fellow/senior staff then no criminal report filed/no admin support.
Every published study is flawed.
NAEMT found 52% assaulted on the job.
BLS found 70% of 23,000 serious injuries from assault in 2013 occurred in healthcare.
80-100% of every group admits to being the victim of a criminal assault and only 2-3% ever reported it.
Police: told criminal assaults are not part of the job
EMS: told criminal assaults are “just part of the job”
Workplace violence is predominant with emergency response personnel. It is vital to train them to make sure they are equip properly to protect themselves from potential violence not from a “patient” but from a criminal. We need to train because there is more to life than work. We should work to live not live to work. Companies can research their state to see if mental health treatment is part of workers’ compensation coverage.