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Paramedic Physical Demands Analysis

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Technical Report

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Queens University Kingston, ON Canada

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Paramedics must complete many physically demanding activities in order to provide essential emergency medical care. While most paramedic and emergency medical services have an indication of the physical demands faced by their own paramedics, a national physical demands profile does not exist. A national profile would help to identify points of commonality and difference between services that might be useful to know when considering process and practice improvements. Using a participatory approach that partnered ergonomic researchers and paramedics, the purpose of this study was to conduct a Physical Demands Analysis PDA of paramedic work in different services, sampled from across the country. The result is a national physical demands profile for paramedic work in Canada. PDAs were conducted at five paramedic services across the country. At each service the PDA was completed using a three-step process preparation, observation and data collection, and reporting. For the preparation phase, the research team provided two participating paramedics with an intensive 5-hour interactive PDA workshop. The goal of the workshop was to help train paramedics to identify and document specific physical demand elements. Within 1-14 days following the workshop paramedics completed the observation and data collection phase. During this step paramedics rode out third and observed and documented the physical demands during two separate 12-hour shifts one day and one night shift, where feasible. The PDA-trained paramedics then returned the observational data to the research team for analyses. In the reporting phase, data were transcribed by the research team to determine the types of physical demands and the frequency and duration of each.

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