I have been in emergency services for over 13 years, 10 in EMS. I am currently a preceptor in a 911 service & a paramedic student. I have recently undertaken a 16 year old female who is hearing impaired and is extremely enthusiastic about getting into EMS. She starts EMT class in January, wears hearing aides (without them she is almost 100% deaf). My partner and I have been doing a ton of research with hearing impaired folks, ems publications, authors, as well as equipment for the hearing impaired.

That's where you all come in! If you are or know someone who is hearing impaired, can offer some advice, or first hand experiences my partner and I would appreciate it! As I said we have already looked into the stethoscopes, & I'd like to keep this in a positive manner. My partner & I know this is not going to be a walk in the park for any of us. We have already had some negative comments, interactions, etc.

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There should be no reason why a hearing-impaired person can not function as an EMT or paramedic in a typical EMS environment.  Moreover, accommodating their impairment probably falls under the ADA, so agencies don't have a choice and individual providers who make "negative comments" should be dealt with swiftly.

I work in a large and busy EMS agency.  We provided our H/I employee with an amplified stethoscope and all was fine - she was a competent full time paramedic who carried her full weight and did excellent patient care.

Why this would be an issue I can't imagine.  If I've missed something please update and I will try to address it.  Thanks.

WEll look no further!!! I am a Paramedic for a major metro ambulance service in Minnesota and wear two hearing aids. I have been hard of hearing for a long long time. I had some major difficulties and obstacles i had to overcome. With out my hearing aids i am leagally deaf (just about a 90% loss in both ears.) with the hearing aids i operate with about a 20% loss.

there are a ton of options available to make life easier or more benefical. depening on the hearing aid brand she has and its capabilites I can recommend a few things.

If the hearing aids are newer and have bluetooth capabilites, that can open a better more efficant avenue as far as equipment goes.

this link is for a wireless bluetooth stethscope (still in development and was scheduled to be done in 2012) http://www.freedomscope.com/index.htm

I still use a Cardiotronic E-scope II which has a few different ways it can be used either by traditional ear prongs, headsets or again depending on the aides a direct plug in. http://www.allheart.com/electronic-stethoscopes/c/1114/

As far as the radio goes, i have taken a standard technology and then developed my own mold to incorporate the tech. very low technology but highly efective and is only the cost of a new mold usually 80 dollars.

what i did was take something similar to this product http://www.galls.com/cgi/CGBCSTYL?PMSTYL=AP601 then worked with my audiologist and we ran a prototype mold at my expense and now i can have my radio piped into my ear and my hearing aid work at the same time. quite effective and reduces the dead space between the shoulder mike and the hearing aid and bypassed it all together to feed the sound directly into the ear.

If the hearing aids are very old, i would strongly recommend getting new hearing aids, and buy top of the line, it can be written off on taxes both medically and under the job searching reduction since that is why she would buy it.

the biggest hurdle she will ever have is proving to others that she can do the job, the company will wonder about legal and liabilities regardless of the ADA Act, partners will wonder if she will be able to hear them on a noisy scene or in an event of an emergency. Dispatch will wonder if she can hear them and may get irritated or complain about having to repeat them selves. she will always be singled out because she wear hearing aids even if the same thing happens to the other 70% of the staff. She needs to be strong, and willing to take the pressure, grudges, and in some sad cases the nastiness of people not understanding that just because she has hearing aids doesnt impede her ability to serve. (Trust me i know I worked for several years to prove to people i can do the job just fine)

If you have more specific questions please feel free to msg me on this site and i will do my best to answer them.

Wow awesome discussion!!  I've been struggling  for years to find a stethoscope that I could actually hear with.  I don't wear hearing aides; but I have enough loss that I rarely am able to clearly hear, especially in the back of the truck.  Do these electronic scopes work in the back of a truck without picking up all of the ambient road noise?  I was told they pick up too much external noise to be practical for the field.  Would love to hear from someone who knows.  Thanks!!

I was  going to offer some advice  but Adam Harvey has done a much better job than I ever could. I have total hearing  loss in one ear ( Thanks Mumps!), since the age of three. My Mum and Dad never treated me differently from my brothers, so it took me a long while to figure out that mayde I had some kind of disability. I have been in EMS for over 18 years and am now a Intensive Care Paramedic. Every individual will have specific needs depending on the type and amount of hearing loss. The only thing to be certain of is that if your vocation is to be a paramedic then this shouldn't hold you back. The technology has improved so much and there are so many solutions to the potential problems. A really inspiring book is' Silent Alarm', about a hearing impaired EMT in the Seventies. The biggest obstacle I have found is some organisations are just blinkered, even against their own equal opportunities policies. Tell your student never to give up and she will get there. Feel free to drop me a line, If I can help. Take care, Pete Hannen.

Skip, Is there a standard that may cover this such as the NFPA 1582 for Firefighting? What level of hearing loss may be acceptable? Is there a breakoff?

Adam, Thanks for your experience in adapting. My agency may be looking into bringing on a Live-in Student with significant hearing loss (I do not yet know the extent but we have been asked to learn ASL to greet her at a social event). If we can provide the adaptive technology to help make her successful, that would be great. I am just trying to educate myself  so we will know how to proceed.

Not a problem, im glad that i can share my experiences  and hopefully help someone avoid all the pitfalls, let downs and frustrations for both the company and personal. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or want to talk about things I have done.

K, Thanks much. We will be meeting this person tonight at a Dept social affair.

There are enough adjuncts out today to overcome communication with patients and with stethoscope needs. I can say it isn't going to be an easy task to communicate with all patients but with a helpful partner, it can be overcome.

I just question what the potential employer may say about driving issues with the hearing loss.

Good luck!

Hi Chris Woods,

I am glad to see you are taking new recruits in your department.  Willing to use people who are excited to help out in their community. 

I am an EMT with hearing loss.  I have working in the field for 12 years.  I use a NoiZfree for cell phone and radio communications as well classes online.  This works with your t coil in your hearing aids.  This is not very expensive so you can buy yourself and use it for everyday life. 

The department can buy a pager system where the pager has a read out of the address and MOI/NOI.  This is great for any EMT to be able to be in class without needing to listen to the radio during class.  Also this means less talking to dispatch asking them to repeat the address and directions.  

For any person with hearing loss in EMS the hearing aids you have can make all the difference in the world.  You should have a hearing aid that: is water resistant, has a t coil, can change setting for quiet and loud environments, can change volume, that fits right with the right mold.  You can also try bluetooth which works for some people.  There are also a lot of amplifiers you can try as well.  If your hearing loss has sounds you can not hear get a hearing aid that can transfer frequencies you can not hear to ones you can.  I have a Naida III UP which works great for me.  If you need a new hearing aid check out  hearingplanet.com for hearing aids for discounted prices and good financing options.

Good luck with everything!

If you have more questions just ask!

Amy

there is no issue on my end however there was at another organization. I have had this young lady complete a ride along twice now and find her to be more competant than some of the poor providers i work with. She has even began teaching the crews how to sign with deaf people. I thank you all for your advice, this is just the begining of a learning experience for all of us in learning how to adapt & overcome!

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