By Roy Mercer, VFIS of Texas Director of Safety, Training & Education
The last article I wrote was the beginning stages of my Biggest Loser experience. “Three very important rules, even I have a problem maintaining are; stretching your body before you take on the activity, drinking 100 ounces of water a day or ½ your body weight in ounces of water a day, and taking small steps toward your goals.” In this article I will be focusing on setting those small goals. Setting goals are easy, staying on track is the hard part because life gets in the way. As many of you have already experienced through your emergency responses or even your classes, very similar to your ICS 300, setting goals need to be SMART.
What are SMART goals? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Specific goals are those that guide the user and/or the participant to desirable results. Remember, when developing the SMART goals, it is for you and the life you are living, keep focusing on yourself, what are the desired results of your goals. An example, I will drink at least half my weight in ounces of water per day within three months, this is the desired result. Measurable, half my weight per day of water. Attainable, don’t make it hard to reach because when we accomplish something we feel good about ourselves. Keep in mind that experts state it takes 66 days to form a habit, according to a new recent study, “founded by the 2010 UK study, led by University College London research psychologist Pippa Lally”. Meaning, if your desire is to keep this goal ongoing, then set it up for 66 days to be attainable. You may want to start drinking 16 ounces a day at the beginning and by the end of the 66th day you have met your goal of half your weight in ounces of water per day. If you forget and don’t achieve a certain day, the 66 days start over. Remember, it is your life so make it attainable to your life style. If the goal was to create a habit of drinking half your weight of water a day, after you reach half your weight of water from that day forward you start counting the 66 days. Realistic, can it be accomplished? You need to stop and ask yourself, if I drink this much water when can I drink and please don’t forget, the water goes somewhere, so can I also get rid of the water. These are two important rules for me, I travel and when I am on the road I need to take the opportunity to stop. Planning is very important, I have been held up in traffic before and the pain was so bad that I was willing to relieve myself right there, haven’t done this yet but I am sure it will happen if I do not plan correctly. Lastly, Timely, we mentioned this already, the 66 days, but a time frame is very important, it sets the bench marks of the goal. During this 66 days’ experience of creating a habit, set up achievable bench marks along the way to keep yourself on task for the overall goal timeline.
Stretching your muscles today is being questioned by some officials. Evidence has not proven that stretching helps reduce injuries during exercise. Additionally, there’s no evidence that stretching will harm you before and even after you exercise. The Biggest Loser’s group supports the idea of stretching the body before working out. By far I am not an expert in the subject but personally I like the idea of stretching. We were asked in the at the Biggest Loser campus to join the group at 6 am. I always enjoyed this hour of stretching, preparing you mentally and physically each day before your exercising experience. This year at the State Firefighters and Fire Marshals’ Association convention, a stretching class has scheduled each morning at 6 am. I will be facilitating the event with SWorkit App. This program will help you get started in your regular day. Through my travels across the state I have seen and heard new approaches to stretch your body before starting work. One department, don’t remember the name, has implemented stretching before the trucks get checked at the start of each shift, a pat-on-the-back for those departments for implementing these processes. The SWorkit App will guide you through the process. In closing, come out June 25 – 28, 2016 in McAllen, Texas to start your days right.
By Shawn Henners, Safety Officer, Montgomery County Hospital District
Montgomery County Hospital District (MCHD) provides indigent care, 911 EMS service, and public health for a county of about 500,000 residents, the 13th fastest growing county in the nation. On the EMS side, we have about 200 EMS field personnel, and in 2015 we ran just shy of 60,000 calls.
In 2014, the Safety Committee noted that the number of reported employee injuries caused by “combative patients” was starting to rise. That year, 14 of our 44 (32%) employee injury reports identified “combative patient” as the immediate cause. One of those incidents aggravated a pre-existing back problem, effectively ending the career of one of our paramedics and costing over $100,000 in workers’ comp claims. 2015 was not very different – 12 of 52 (23%) employee injury reports identified “combative patient” as the immediate cause, including a concussion caused when a paramedic’s head was slammed against a cement floor. Thankfully, that employee recovered quickly and fully.
In May 2015, the Safety Committee considered several training solutions on the market, both nationally and locally. In the end, we chose DT4EMS (Defensive Tactics 4 Escaping Mitigating Surviving). We chose this particular solution because it was designed for EMS/fire, and includes training on the legal and ethical responsibilities to our patients (and how to recognize an attacker vs. a patient), how to de-escalate a situation by providing great customer service (a high value at MCHD), and finally, how to physically defend yourself from an attack while minimizing liability to the organization or individual. The class is a perfect combination of lecture & practical skills – it seems like you’re never in your seat for more than 30 minutes at a time.
We hosted a train-the-trainer in October 2015 and trained nine employees (plus one local firefighter). After a few months of planning and looking at policies and SOGs that might need to change to better align with the training, our in-house trainers trained EMS command staff and some of our training department in January 2016. Although some of them were rather skeptical at first of the need for training, by the end of the 16-hour class, they were 100% behind it. We will begin training our field crews in March, integrate the class as part of our new employee training plan in May, and plan to extend the training to our call-takers and dispatchers as soon as possible.
Future expansion also includes training other first responder organizations in our region, and providing an 8-hour class to all of our non-EMS staff. We will be tracking our injury rate as we roll this training out, and we expect to see a significant decrease in the number of injuries caused by aggressive patients. And although our customer satisfaction scores are consistently very high, we expect to see those improve, too. Our employees will have the training they need to stay safe, we will make better use of taxpayer money as our workers comp insurance premiums go down, and our patients and their families will receive the best pre-hospital care possible. It really is a win-win.
Since January 1, 2012, the most common causes of injury among Emergency Services Organization Safety Group members have been strains, slips, trips, and falls, miscellaneous causes, industrial hygiene incidents, and being struck by objects.
During this time period, the causes of injury with the highest average claim costs were motor vehicle collisions, strains, slips, trips, and falls, being caught in, under, or between objects, and being struck by objects.
Common Industry Hazards:
A list of activities or situations that contributed to the safety group’s injuries is provided below in order to raise awareness of common hazards within the industry. After reviewing this list, download the Common Control Strategies document from the Texasmutual.com Safety Resource Center to learn how to protect your employees from these hazards.
Slips, Trips, And Falls:
Being Struck by Objects:
Among Emergency Services Organization Safety Group members, the three most common causes of injury are strains, slips, trips, and falls, and miscellaneous causes. The three causes of injury with the highest average claim costs are motor vehicle collisions, strains, and slips, trips, and falls.
Texas Mutual recommends that you implement control strategies to protect your employees from these causes of injury. You can use the free safety resources available through the texasmutual.com Safety Resource Center to implement new company policies, train employees, and document your safety activities.
Slips, Trips, And Falls:
Control Strategies for Additional Common Industry Hazards:
Being Struck by Objects:
ESO WC GROUP
VFIS of Texas