As an EMS provider, one of the quickest ways to end your career is with a back injury, which unfortunately happens more frequently than you may think. A survey conducted by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) showed that 47% of EMS personnel have sustained a back injury while performing EMS duties. Scary — right? Although this percentage is quite high, it’s important to realize this is a preventable injury and you don’t have to become part of the statistic. Here are four basic principles of body mechanics that will save your back and put you in a position to have a long and healthy career.
Four Basic Principles
- Keep the weight of the object as close to your body as possible: The likelihood of sustaining a back injury greatly increases the further you have to reach for the object.
- Use your leg, hip, gluteal and abdominal muscles to lift: These muscles can generate a lot of lifting power with minimal risk. Notice how your back muscles, which are drastically weaker, were not included.
- Think “stacking”: Try to picture your shoulders stacked on top of your hips and your hips stacked on top of your feet. Once everything is properly aligned, move them as a unit.
- Reduce the height or distance the object needs to be moved: This is where the phrase, “work smarter, not harder” comes into play. Sometimes this can be as simple as moving the gurney as close to the patient as possible.
The next time you’re moving a patient or equipment, make sure to incorporate these four basic principles. Your back will thank you — trust us.