While stress at most workplaces is related to conflict with coworkers and too many responsibilities, paramedics experience stress from traumatic events and the loss of human life. People in this job must learn about the causes, symptoms and solutions for paramedics and stress.
Being exposed to trauma, violence and death on a regular basis is a common stressor for paramedics, but it isn’t the only cause of stress. A frantic work pace mixed with a heavy workload also leads to paramedics feeling frazzled. Since paramedics also perform shift work, they can derive stress from working nights or working 24-hour cycles, as is common in the paramedic field.
Stress can be detrimental to the human body if steps aren’t taken to relieve it. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, stress increases blood pressure and cholesterol while decreasing the immune system and weakening the body’s natural ability to fight off viruses and bacteria.
Stress in a paramedic can be physically felt in the body in a number of ways. Headaches, high blood pressure and fatigue are common physical signs of stress. Frequent illness can also be a sign since the body’s immune system is compromised.
Impatience and defensiveness are two signs of stress that paramedics may experience. Depression and apathy to their work can also signal stress in a paramedic’s body. Paramedics need to recognize these symptoms of stress early and get treatment, since someone’s life can depend on whether a paramedic is functioning at her best.
Many employers of paramedics have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that provide employees with access to counselors and other specialists that can help them learn to manage their stress. Some organizations also provide debriefing sessions for paramedics and other emergency workers in traumatic or severely violent events.