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PeaceKeepr

EMS and your back

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How hard is being an EMT on your back?

I have recently become interested in becoming and EMT. But I have a question.

I had surgery on a ruptured disk in my lumbar section 4 years ago and don't have much trouble out of that since then.

I probably need surgery on my upper back b/c of another disk - but it does not give me any pain, I can just tell something isn't right.

I have been told by someone that is an EMT that it isn't that bad, that the bed/cot does alto of the lifting for you and when getting patients to the bed there is usually several people around that can help...

I know my back could be a accident waiting, but I've been thinking about becoming an EMT alot lately and think I would like to do the job.

What are your opinions on this?

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Unfortunately my back hurts after every shift. Usually it is just you and your partner lifting the cot with a 200 lb patient and sometimes 30 or more lbs of equipment on the stretcher. Sometimes there are several people around to help but you can't rely on that. Lots of times its just the 2 of you assisting a heavy elderly patient up from the floor. In my experience this is not a job for weak or "bad" backs.

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If you have a bad back, EMS is probably not something you want to get into.

Especially when you get those 500+ pound patients who cannot move under their own power.

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It is going to depend upon exactly what sort of position in EMS you take. If you're going to be a first responder, then it won't be as much of an issue as being on an ambulance. But being on an ambulance definitely takes its toll on the back over time. You can minimize the impact through proper usage of body mechanics, posture, and lifting technique, as well as always getting help when available, rather than worrying about your pride and trying to do everything by yourself, or with just your partner. But even then, you are likely going to lift, twist, or bend just the wrong way sooner or later, and then you get to be a patient on your own ambulance. Remember, even with roll-in cots, you still have to lift the patient onto that cot first. And you will still have to carry the patient AND the cot over rough terrain, curbs, up and down stairs, etc... And when you are lifting patients to and from hospital/nursing home beds onto your cot, you cannot maintain proper posture. You're going to be leaning. That is where a lot of the injuries occur. And it is why nursing is so hard on the back.

Bottom line is, if you are on an ambulance, there is no way to completely avoid high stress on the spine. I would recommend that you talk to your orthopod about it. He's in a better position to judge the vulnerability of your back than any of us are. Be honest with him about the types of weights you would be lifting. If he says go for it, you definitely want to start and maintain a regular regimen of exercise designed to strengthen and condition your back and stabilizer muscles to minimize the risk of injury.

Good luck!

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Like said before...you should really talk to your doc about it first. But here's what I've found: I had a back injury that put me in therapy and chiropractic care 3 times a week for a year. I am ok now but still have scoliosis and two slight disk bulges (not as bad as yours). I was told this job is killer and yeah at times my back kills. BUT if you are serious about doing this and keeping your back healthy - regimen lifting, strength training, and one on one with your doc often, maybe even a personal trainer's advice - you can do it. There are usually other people to help you. You do have to do a lot on your own, but it's no different from anyone else. I don't lift a pt. if I feel I cannot do it or that I may sustain an injury afterwards. If you really commit yourself to this exciting, rewarding career, you can definately find the motivation to keep yourself healthy and strong. Besides, sitting in a desk chair all day isn't any good for your back either. You will have back injuries, you will have pain from time to time. But unless you have a debilitating problem, just stay healthy and keep in contact with your doc and you should be fine. Hope that helps, KD

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Besides, sitting in a desk chair all day isn't any good for your back either.

Yes, I'm glad it wasn't just me...

Thanks for the input guys/gals.

I can lift things now. I can pick up my g/f - and she isn't the lightest thing...- I help my dad bust fire wood, I mow yards, I've moved furnature, I've helped a guy totally move out of one house and into another.......I know each situation will be different but maybe just maybe...ya know?

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How hard is being an EMT on your back?

I have recently become interested in becoming and EMT. But I have a question.

I had surgery on a ruptured disk in my lumbar section 4 years ago and don't have much trouble out of that since then.

I probably need surgery on my upper back b/c of another disk - but it does not give me any pain, I can just tell something isn't right.

I have been told by someone that is an EMT that it isn't that bad, that the bed/cot does alto of the lifting for you and when getting patients to the bed there is usually several people around that can help...

I know my back could be a accident waiting, but I've been thinking about becoming an EMT alot lately and think I would like to do the job.

What are your opinions on this?

You will learn lifting and moving techniques in your basic class that really help if you utilize them. As for me...I want to protect my back as much as possible so if a pt is to heavy for my partner and I....then I call for the big, strong firemen to assist with lifting.

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Well, I went to the chiropractor and had some x-rays. He said that there wasn't any indications of a problem in my upper back. I really didn't think to ask his advice about being any EMT b/c I sorta figured that he would tell me almost the same as all of you have given me. I have a few weeks to decide about joining the EMT program..it starts in January.

If I start the program, I will start working out and walking and practicing lifting properly.

Thanks for all of the feed back. Now I just have to make the decision.

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If you've already got pre-existing back conditions, you need to think long and hard before getting into this profession. Even using proper lifting techniques, there's a lot of stress on the back.

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