Category Archives: Health

I Bet You Didn’t Realize You Don’t Have to Die

I bet that you didn’t realize that workers die from a work-related accident or disease every 15 seconds. According to the International Labour Organization, every day 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases.

The International Labour Organization continues by stating, 317 million accidents occur on the job annually; many of these resulting in extended absences from work. The human cost of this daily adversity is vast and the economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is estimated at 4 percent of global Gross Domestic Product each year. So that means, more than 2.3 million deaths each year are a result of working. To me that seems a bit alarming, but why is that and how can we decrease these numbers?

Many organizations look at OSHA requirements as a burden and find that they can be difficult and cumbersome to accomplish the tasks at hand. However, many lives have been saved since the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. According to the AFL-CIO in their 2016 edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect more than 532,000 workers lives have been saved since this passage of that act.

Now, if you are anything like me you think to yourself, well that is not a great set of numbers considering it has been 47 years since the act of 1970 and only accounts for 532,000 lives saved or 11,319 per year. As for those 532,000 people, this is a great statistic, but what about the ones that were not saved…you know the other 2.3 million people per year?

To answer this questions you have to consider the overall facts and the numbers associated with it. Many of these deaths occur in developing countries where health and safety policies are not really considered when performing a task or a job.  As for the United States of America, only 4,821 workers were killed in 2014 from work-related injuries. Although that number is significantly less than the originally reported 2.3 million, there is still an opportunity to save more.

As for the United States of America, only 4,821 workers were killed in 2014 from work-related injuries. Although that number is significantly less than the originally reported 2.3 million, there is still an opportunity to save more.

Over the course of my career both in emergency medical services and the health and safety industry, I have found that many companies preach safety but do not follow safety. The question then becomes why do you talk safety if you do not perform safely? When I would ask these questions, often times I would get answers like, “well because OSHA says we have to” or I would get statements like, “what’s the big deal, nothing has ever happened before” Folks, I will tell you that just because it has not happened yet, does not mean that it won’t. More than likely, your organization is quickly running out of time before it does.

When I would ask these questions, often times I would get answers like, “well because OSHA says we have to” or I would get statements like, “what’s the big deal, nothing has ever happened before” Folks, I will tell you that just because it has not happened yet, does not mean that it won’t. More than likely, your organization is quickly running out of time before it does.

On the other hand, I have worked with some amazing organizations that take employee safety very seriously and have either encounter incidents that have made them change their safety culture, or they realized the benefit of a strong safety presence and value their employees.

What are your options?

If you are thinking to yourself that your organization could use some work? Well, I will tell you that there are many options, however, it won’t happen overnight. Consider these steps.

  1. Understand the job and how it can affect the safety of your employee.
  2. What safety measurements do you have in place currently?
  3. Are these measurements up to standards?
  4. Do your employees believe in these standards?
  5. If they don’t, find out why. (Because often they skip safety steps because they are cumbersome. As a company find ways to make it more efficient)
  6. Do your managers follow the same standards?
  7. Make sure to remind employees about their safety, but do not preach it because employees will lose interest.
  8. Create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable to report safety issues.
  9. Constantly evaluate your culture and change as necessary.
  10. Reach out to companies that provide health and safety for consultations or overall management of these procedures.

By no means is this a foolproof system. There will always be employees that will break the standards, however, when you have a culture that appreciates safety, those employees will either join the cause or will quickly move on. Over time, you will see that safety becomes a natural part of your everyday workforce. and it is no longer something that makes you say, “How did he die, we have always done that and we have never had a problem before.”

And consider this, if you make the necessary changes, hopefully, you will never find yourself saying something like this, “How did he die? We have always done it that way and we have never had a problem before.”




About the Author:

Jason McLaughlin is the General Manager of SALA Remote Medics. He has been in the Emergency Medical Services Field for 17 years and has a Degree in Organizational Leadership and Emergency Management from Colorado State University.

All-encompassing Remote Healthcare

Remote Healthcare can be a challenge and a key component of a successful health and safety program is mitigating potential health risks before they ever occur.

Having employees who are healthy before going to a remote location is the first step in this process. That is why SALA Remote Medics believes in the opportunity to provide valuable health information to employers and employees alike. SALA Remote Medics and Alaska Urgent Care understands the dynamics of having an effective operation at these sites and has created an all-encompassing health program.

Know Before You Go

Your employees have the opportunity to be seen for pre-employment physicals and post incident treatment in Anchorage, Alaska by certified occupational health physicians who understand the needs and limitations of employees while being in the remote areas of Alaska.

Being Protected in the Field

Positioning SALA Remote Medics personnel such as HSE advisors, paramedics, registered nurses, and/or physician assistants into your remote field operations allows employees to be covered by one cohesive team which manages all of their health and safety needs. You as the employer now have the opportunity to see healthcare from beginning to end through one streamlined process.

Contact us and let SALA Remote Medics and Alaska Urgent Care show you how to keep your employees safe and healthy through our comprehensive health management system.

Thoughts on Managing Paramedics in a Remote Setting

In 27 years working in EMS, I have had the opportunity to not only talk to multiple Managers/Supervisors of EMS personnel, but also to have spent several years being one of those Managers/Supervisors to varying degrees. A common theme that has been around since I started in this business is: Managing Paramedics is most closely related to “Herding Cats”. They are some of the most willful, opinionated, strongest type “A” personalities you will ever have the pleasure of working with. I say this with love as I am one of them.

Managing these great folks in an urban environment where they are working spread out over a large metropolitan area is challenging enough. Now take those same medics and send them 1000-3000 miles away to a remote camp in the middle of the Arctic Circle, or off to a foreign country and still endeavor to be an efficient and supportive Manager. It is a whole lot more challenging than being able to walk down the hall or even meet up at the local hospital to talk to and support your team members. In such remote environments, management becomes even more important than more traditional office/field environments, and calls for different or enhanced skills to effectively do the job and to facilitate providing the best care possible to the clients that we serve.


Communicating is always the first key to success, but becomes even more critical in a remote working environment.

Do not assume that because your workforce is “remote”, that you will have less communication. In fact, the opposite is true.  Remote workers have the potential to feel isolated, may have difficulty in following SOP’s without direct supervision close by, or become unwilling to work in a “team” environment. I think these things are just human nature, only amplified for us medics.

Regular and consistent communication with remote medics can help to counteract these things. It is not all that difficult to accomplish in this “technical age” with various and easy ways to communicate. For example, Email, text, phone, fax, Facebook messenger, and countless other ways that this technologically challenged medic has probably not even heard of.

Be aware, however, that electronic communication does not include voice inflection, facial expressions, etc., that a face to face communication has. Just be aware of this when using humor in these forms of communications, as it may not come across the same in an email as it would in person. This is just something for you to think about. I am guilty frequently of this, by the way.

It is also even more important for Managers to be more accessible to remote medics in the field. Be more flexible with your time to help alleviate some of the “feelings of isolation” issues that invariably arise. Remote managers need to make sure they are accessible to their employees by multiple avenues, and also flexible with their time within reason. More so than in normal “EMS” circumstances.

Create a “Team” atmosphere

Being part of the team increases morale, motivation, job satisfaction, and creates company success for all.

As a manager, it is important to always be focused on maintaining a “team” environment for all staff members. This works best by communication as mentioned above. Also, at every opportunity that presents itself, get together as a group, even if it has nothing to do with work. Have dinner and/or drinks; find off work interests/activities that you can do as a group whenever possible.


Good Managers respect their medics and foster respect from them as well. They have “been there, done that” and should know what the job entails and keep this in mind as a team leader. If you haven’t “walked a mile in those shoes”, it’s hard to lead by example. Do not fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. Trust your medics to do the job, unless proven otherwise. It is how you expect to be treated and they deserve nothing less.


Training for remote medics is critical for success. Not so much in medical skills but in company SOP’s and procedures. You have already vetted them medically as a part of the hiring process. Sending them to remote locations to fulfill their duties, however, requires attention to detail in company training and in preparing them for success particularly the medics with limited or no experience in working in the remote arena. Set them up for success, not failure!

Initial training should always be conducted face to face, and whenever possible, should include currently working remote medics. They will be able to provide insights to the job that may “slip your mind”.

Regular training meetings should also be scheduled. This also provides time for “team building”, disseminating company information, and getting feedback from field medics outside the normal day to day communications.


Conflicts are inevitable in all aspects of life. On the remote job site, theses can become even more of a problem. Resolving these issues also becomes more time consuming and difficult due to remoteness. But it is important to try to resolve these issues as soon as possible instead of waiting for a more convenient time to avoid the problem escalating on the job site and causing harm to the business relationship with the client as well as detriment to the remote medic’s wellbeing in the job.

Again, building relationships among the team outside of work and regular communication efforts help to resolve these issues before they arise.


Burnout is a common problem in EMS as a general rule, but can most assuredly be worse in the remote setting. Long periods away from family and friends will take a toll on the remote medic.

While it is always important to keep open the lines of communication, and to be cognizant of employees’ mood and demeanor, it becomes even more important in the remote setting. Be acutely aware of signs of burnout and be prepared to do a crew change out if need be and offer any support you can to avoid burnout. Happy medics make for a happy and successful company for all!

Thanks for reading the thoughts (ravings) of an old medic. Be safe out there.


By Sean Brooks, MICP, NRP