Here’s a summary our discussion presented on the Clinical Pinnacle, EMS Roundtable Blogtalk radio on March 11, 2013. If you missed the live show, catch it in the archives here.
If you have recently been appointed into a position where you are responsible for the safety programs in your agency, perhaps these tips and links will help you on your way.
- Research and read any regulations that pertain to safety in EMS. Generally, you’ll find a wealth of information at OSHA, NISOSH (research agency for CDC), the CDC, and your state Department of Labor and Industries websites. Make sure to check with your local governmental agencies as well, they may have additional regulations for topics such as bio-hazard waste disposal.
- Look for free resources on the Internet. There is a great deal of information available on the web in the realm of safety. Because of this, it can be a daunting task and research can become overwhelming so stay focused and take your time. If needed, converse with others and look for interpretive statements for confusing information.
- Drink coffee during this process because you will develop narcolepsy during this process.
Educate yourself in regards to your role and responsibilities.
- One of the most important roles in an EMS agency is the role of the Infection Control Officer. Kathy West, RN gives an excellent series of classes designed to prepare you for this responsibility.
- It is likely your state Department of EMS offers free education for various subject matters regarding safety in your agency. Attend at least annually, this will validate your knowledge and lend credibility to you during times of inspection and accreditation.
Collect templates of safety programs. Don’t reproduce work that has already been done somewhere else. A simple Internet search will turn up a significant number of resources for;
- Accident Prevention Program
- Exposure Control Plan
- Respiratory Protection Plan
- Various other procedures and policies that you’ll need to implement for a complete comprehensive program. (Control of Hazardous Energy, Hazardous Communication Program, Workplace Violence, Fitness and Nutrition for EMS providers, Ergonomics)
Create and establish initial and on-going education programs to meet the regulations and target your agency.
- Include information related to trends in the agency
- Include national and local epidemiology
After you establish your programs acquire data.
- Using your employee on duty illness / injury forms, collect and evaluate the data. Target education to your trends, give rewards and praise for areas that employees are performing well.
Market and communicate to your team.
- If employees don’t know about the programs, they’ll assume nothing is in place or being done about things. Consider regularly scheduled safety emails highlighting some important points in your program.
- Communicate safety information from the industry. Brian Fass is one excellent resource for this.
- Develop incentive programs to target both extrinsic and intrinsic audiences.
- Consider establishing contests for weight loss or fitness milestones.
Collect feedback from your team.
- Use an audience response system in the classroom to engage the audience while giving you information.
- Occasionally use Internet survey’s to evaluate your teams understanding of your programs and perhaps gain insight into their expectations as well.
- Add a questionnaire in regards to the safety programs to your on duty illness and injury program. This is a great way to gain feedback from your crews about the Safety programs and gauge their effectiveness and influence on your team.
Be prepared for challenges in managing and establishing safety programs.
- Communication can be a challenge. Be brief, provide useful information and be consistent and provide convenient means for crews to communicate to you.
- Use a root cause analysis process for evaluating incidents. An excellent model is the Just Culture Causal Analysis
Consider big issues facing the industry and include information in regards to them in your programs and educational content.
- Fitness and nutrition
- Patient drops and gurney use
- Workplace violence (what I specifically mean is combative patients, active shooters, and mass destruction).
Tips to change the culture to promote safety in an organization include;
- Two way communication
- Recognition, incentives and rewards
- Lead by example
- Stay current
Until next time!