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Jasmine Ballard First Responder research 2014

Jasmine Wendt-Ballard, senior in Health Administration, surveyed the mental health status of 103 local EMTs to gather information on the knowledge and behaviors of paramedics and students becoming EMTs. Wendt-Ballard, a paramedic by trade, noticed how she and her colleagues dealt with the high stress involved in the job and chose to research this topic for her Health Studies Research Methods class under Dr. Misty Rhoads.

She surveyed area EMTs about alcohol use and found that 60% of the individuals she surveyed reported consuming alcohol 1 – 2 days a week. Wendt-Ballard, a paramedic herself, analyzed the surveys and found that EMTs drink 8 out of 10 days that they do not work. “Typically an EMT is scheduled to work 15 day a month and on average the respondents report picking up an additional 1-5 shifts per month which means they are working 16-20 shifts per month at their primary job. If that is true, they are only off from their primary job 10-14 days per month. If they are consuming alcohol 2 days a week and are only off for 10 days out of a month they are consuming alcohol 8 out of the 10 days they are off work,” said Wendt-Ballard. Additionally, Wendt-Ballard determined that 43 individuals from the survey reported feeling depressed, and 88% of those 43 individuals never talked about feeling depressed.

 “We know it’s a problem, but then to quantify alcohol use and depression showed we know we have to do something,” said Wendt-Ballard. This research was presented to educators and professionals in the field, specifically to the Committee for EMS Mental Health in Effingham, the Region 6 EMS Coordinators Netting, and at the Russell Symposium.

She compiled data to form statistics about EMTs and students becoming EMTs while being supported by EIU faculty and the encouraging Health Studies department. “I came here because of the major and coursework EIU offers. This program is unlike other programs that I looked into,” said Wendt-Ballard. “Also, Dr. Rhoads helped push the research and offered support to break boundaries.” Jasmine would love to see her research expand to a state-wide study.