EMS World

AUG 2018

EMS World Magazine is the most authoritative source in the world for clinical and educational material designed to improve the delivery of prehospital emergency medical care.

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Page 43 of 51

EMSWORLD.com | AUGUST 2018 43 focusing on mindful, purposeful breathing. After years of compassion fatigue and secondary trauma from my career, it felt as if my nervous system was about to break. Yoga helped bring calm to my storm. First responders live in a state of hypervigilance. We're taught to be con- stantly aware of our surroundings. We are extraordinarily alert, perceptive, and active, and make split-second life-or-death decisions daily. EMS providers also see more illness, pain, death, violence, and destruc- tion in one shift than the average person sees in a lifetime. As soon as we start out on a call, our sympathetic nervous system is activated. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure rises, we begin to sweat, our digestive system slows, and stress hormones flood the bloodstream. These hormones are necessary to perform under stress, but if they are released constantly without allowing time for our system to return to homeostasis, we may begin to show a decrease in compassion and increases in illness, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, and depression. Eventually these physical and mental symptoms can develop into post-traumatic stress. What if there were a way to proactively teach our bodies to maintain a calm and focused state during these stressful circumstances? Features of Yoga for EMS There are many opportunities for EMS providers to practice yoga: at the gym, in a studio, at home, or even at work. One of these programs, Yoga for First Responders (YFFR), builds resiliency through somatic and cognitive exercises within the foundation of the yoga philosophy. It uses techniques geared specifically for first responders as a tool for stress management. YFFR focuses on tactical breathing techniques that open the door to access the nervous system. Physical drills are added along with mindful, conscious breathing for releasing stress and building mental and physical stability. Using these techniques, along with cognitive behavioral therapy, changes the mind-set surrounding stressful circumstances. Designing a yoga program for first responders speaks directly to our needs and supports the skills we require daily. "Prayer hands," chanting, music and Sanskrit (the classic Indian language used in yoga postures), while often components of other yoga disciplines, are not features of this program. It offers a choice of various poses. By practicing tactical breathing while in a physical posture and using a technique to mentally reframe your experience, your brain will develop a memory of it and tuck it into a subconscious "file folder" to use later. Con- tinued practice will make it an automatic reset for your nervous system to fall back on after stressful calls. There really can be a calm in your storm. It's up to you to take a chance and try it. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Heidi Wiegand, NRP, is an active paramedic and team leader with McCandless Franklin Park Ambulance Authority in Pennsylvania. She earned her yoga teaching certifi cation in 2016, teaches power vinyasa fl ow yoga, and is an ambassador for Yoga for First Responders. MORE ONLINE! Fit for Duty Paramedics and EMTs can't handle patients properly if they don't move correctly themselves. www.emsworld.com/article/219809 www.indeelift.com IndeeLift; Bridging the gap between ground and gurney! Designed and built in the USA These products are covered by one or more patents, including U.S. Patent No. 9,808,388 B2 The flagship EMS model (HFL-500-E) weighs-in at only 50 lbs. yet comfortably lifts and transports patients weighing in excess of 500 lbs. Indeelift protects patients and providers by eliminating manual lifting while providing greater comfort and patient dignity for both lift and transfer needs. Being dragged on a tarp is not only humiliating but dangerous for the patient and provider. Give your patients the respect they deserve and do your back a favor at the same time. "IndeeLift is the safest way to pick up a patient for the patient and the provider!" — Fire Captain/Paramedic Kurtis Dickey SAFE PATIENT HANDLING BEGINS WITH INDEELIFT IndeeLift: The safe way to lift and transport patients PROVIDER WELLNESS For More Information Circle 28 on Reader Service Card

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