Psychologist says half LA's paramedics show signs of stress

Friday, September 29, 2000 ©2000 Associated Press URL:

(09-29) 10:19 PDT LOS ANGELES (AP) --

A Fire Department psychologist says more than half the city's paramedics show signs of emotional exhaustion that could affect patient care.

Dr. Robert Scott told a Fire Commission task force Thursday that his study, which sampled 187 paramedics, found that 33 percent experienced serious stress from the intensity and long hours of the job. An additional 21 percent were at risk of serious stress, he said, and 56 percent had high levels of emotional exhaustion. ``These people ... need help now,'' Scott said.

Scott said paramedics complain of marital problems, rage, headaches, depression and sleeplessness. In increasing numbers, he said, they wander in with dull eyes and vacant faces, ``cynical'' and ``bitter.''

Scott's assessment was the latest in a recent series of critical reviews of the Fire Department's paramedic network, which officials say is in crisis. Mayor Richard Riordan on Wednesday announced an emergency initiative to hire 100 paramedics over the next six months in an effort to reduce heavy workloads and forced overtime. ©2000 Associated Press

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