Managing EMS Burnout
Members of the EMT/Paramedic force often face situations that are hard to describe with words. Each day becomes more of a chore, tasks begin to become mundane and lose purpose. If you feel like you have lost the joy you once had in EMS, you might have EMS burnout.
What is EMS Burnout?
It’s a feeling most EMTs and paramedics have experienced after several years on the job, but few know about the actual meaning behind the term. Burnout is used to describe a feeling of exhaustion as a result of severe stress in careers that revolve around helping others.
Burnout is often to blame for feelings of negativism, alienation, impatience, and detachment which could lead to a sense of resenting work. At times, burnout might even lead to alcohol abuse and substance abuse as you try and regain the joy you once felt in life.
What causes EMS burnout?
Emergency personnel face high levels of stress each day that civilians wouldn’t understand. While most people will only be exposed to a tragedy once or twice in their lifetime, EMTs or paramedics often experience them on a weekly basis. This slowly starts to cause wear and each day becomes a chore to go through.
There are other aspects of being in EMS that ultimately lead to burnout:
Uncertainty is common with emergency personnel and many have no idea what to expect when they get out of bed. Typical office jobs have some level of predictability, but being on the front lines of emergency care often relies on you being ready for anything.
Being on edge is a major factor, with EMTs and paramedics being on constant alert for any emergency calls. When the alarm sounds this causes the body to enter a state of fight or flight which raises adrenaline, heart rate, and even blood pressure in the body. Doing this multiple times a day for several years wears down even the toughest warriors.
Experiencing fear is a norm for those on the job. As emergency personnel, you’re often tasked with facing fear head on and saving the lives of people who are in dangerous settings. This, combined with the added pressure of not making mistakes can easily lead to a persistent feeling of fear each day on the job.
Steps You Can Take To Manage Burnout
Burnout can be hard to manage, however there are a few simple things you can do to help control the effects:
It’s important to keep in mind that you alone cannot save the entire world, and trying to do so will often cause stress. What you can do is give your patients the best possibility of getting better with each call you receive. Life or death calls are a very small part of the job, and seeing them as the defining point of your career will often cause you to feel dissatisfied.
Enjoy the small victories
Focusing on only the big triumphs will often lead to disappointment since these situations are so rare. Instead, look at life in such a way that highlights the small things, such as giving medications to improve a patient’s condition. This will provide a sense of satisfaction that will allow you to enjoy your day even more.
Enjoy life outside of work
Being in EMS provides wonderful opportunities that few civilians get to experience. However, it can be physically and mentally taxing if you don’t take the time to enjoy other aspects of your life.
Time outside of work can be best enjoyed by spending time with family, enjoying your hobbies, and relaxing with friends. Small things like cooking a healthy meal can provide energy and lift your spirits at the end of the day. Even a walk to clear your mind will help the world melt away and provide a much needed chance to find yourself once more.
Others don’t know what you have experienced
EMS members go through extensive training and protocols to treat a patient in a particular way. However, there are cases where you might feel like a civilian could have helped the situation turn out better. In these cases keep in mind that they don’t have your experiences or your knowledge. Judging others on how they respond to the situation or their lack of knowledge about proper procedures will lead to unneeded headaches.
Warriors Heart Is Here To Help
Has burnout caused you to rely on alcohol and drugs to get through? It might be time to call Warriors Heart. We are a treatment center located near San Antonio, TX solely dedicated to treating EMTs/paramedics, law enforcement, firefighters, and military members who put their lives on the line to protect the lives of others.
Other treatment centers focus on a cookie cutter treatment program that rarely targets the experiences that emergency personnel go through. However, Warriors Heart is made up of a team who understand the lives of a warrior, including the effects that burnout can have on someone’s life.