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EMS Burnout Is Real: How First Responders Can Get Relief

Just in case you weren’t aware: yes, EMS burnout is real. Everyone experiences varying levels of stress in their careers, regardless of the industry. However, perhaps no occupation is as stressful, physically demanding, and emotionally draining as that of a first responder.

Paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and military personnel are subject to truly grueling work lives. With long hours, chaotic situations, and inconsistent schedules, EMS workers can easily become overwhelmed, unhealthy, and ultimately burnt out. Clearly, our first responders need some relief!

What is EMS Burnout?

Burnout is best defined by symptoms of exhaustion, decreased productivity, and cynicism. Burnt out workers feel “exhausted, listless, and unable to cope due to the severe stress and high ideals experienced” by EMS workers.

As a result, the average EMT only stays on the job for about 5 years.

On the surface, that seems like a very brief time. However, considering the strain these professionals experience on a daily basis, it’s not surprising. The only way to increase the longevity of these compassionate careers is to address why EMS professionals become burnt out in the first place.

Why Do EMS Professionals Get Burnt Out?

Just in case you weren’t paying attention, our EMS first responders experience a staggering amount of stress. They are first in line to respond to all types of emergencies, ranging from natural disasters and car accidents to injuries and illnesses. Despite the risks to their physical and emotional health, these professionals administer lifesaving care to individuals affected by traumatic or medical emergencies.

On top of all of that, EMTs commonly experience:

  • Low wages

  • Heavy workloads

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Emotional burdens

  • Ineffective support systems

  • Poor career recognition

Given their daily experiences with these factors, no wonder why EMS burnout is alive and well in today’s world.

How to Fight EMS Burnout

Thankfully, many organizations have established protocols to help first responders cope with stress, process trauma, and reach out to professional help. Critical incident stress training programs have become widely available to EMTs around the globe to help them prevent PTSD as a result of their career choice.

Additionally, many agencies have discovered that sleep is a prime culprit in EMS burnout. As a result, more and more departments are opting for shorter shifts. With proper training and a good night’s sleep, EMS first responders are utilizing a variety of practices to combat EMS burnout:

  • Meditation

  • Consistent exercise

  • Talk therapy

  • Developing hobbies

  • Setting attainable goals

  • Disconnecting after work

Is something missing from our list? That’s because we saved the most significant for last . . .

Yoga For EMS Professionals

That’s right, we’re talking about yoga. Culturally-informed and job-specific yoga can provide EMTs with the skill set they need to fight burnout.

Through the practice of yoga, first responders are able to process stress, build mental, physical, and emotional resilience, and even enhance their job performance. Yoga and mindfulness science can be applied at EMS organizations to prevent typically high rates of post-traumatic stress, heart attack, and suicide among first responders. Sound too good to be true?

It’s not.

Yoga for First Responders

At Yoga for First Responders, we train EMTs and their supporters our unique approach to critical stress management training. Since our inception, we have trained over 500 first responders and civilians combined, introducing our skillset to thousands of EMTs in an effort to fight EMS burnout and provide them with healthier, happier lives.

Whether you’re looking to become an instructor for your local department or want to start practicing field-tested yoga at home, Yoga for First Responders has the resources you need to relieve EMS burnout and take your career back. Reach out to our passionate team to get started!

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