Hearing Conservation for Firefighters
Comprehensive Hearing Conservation for Trainee Firefighters
Hearing screening and conservation takes place to prevent noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is a sensori-neural hearing loss that is caused by repeated exposure to sounds over an extended period of time. Previous research demonstrated that firefighters have a higher incidence of hearing loss than the general population. Before young firefighters are acculturated, it is important to make them aware of the importance of hearing and hearing protection. This group of workers needs regular hearing screenings and hearing conservation measures to enable them to work effectively. Providing hearing protection devices to these individuals will make hearing conservation an achievable goal.
All paramedic students attending the QCC Healthcare and Workforce Development Center EMT Paramedic Program were approached to volunteer for the study. Sixteen individuals participated in the study.
Adult Hearing Screening Form was used to note case history information, otoscopic examination, pure tone screening results, and otoacoustic emissions results.
Self-Assessment of Communication (SAC) was used in screening for self-perceived hearing disability.
Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior (KAB) Questionnaire was used to track changes in attitudes, knowledge and behaviors after a training session (Saunders, Dann, Griest & Fredrick, 2014).
DefendEar Convertible by Westone Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) was created for each participant.
The hearing conservation program was successful in that the participants’ knowledge increased after participating in the program. Some participants showed good improvement in their knowledge regarding hearing, noise and hearing conservation.
The program resulted in changes in attitudes related to hearing conservation. The participants realized that hearing loss can have serious implications. This realization will lead to better hearing conservation behaviors. The participants did not believe they can successfully develop hearing conservation. The post-hearing protection questionnaire was conducted before the participants received their personalized hearing protection devices. Repeating the questionnaire after the participants had the opportunity to use their HPDs may provide different results.
Changes in behaviors were noticed in some aspects where noise may have a deleterious impact on hearing, but not in all circumstances.
Although the participants did not keep a consistent log of their HPD use, the informal comments were positive regarding the effectiveness and ease of use.
These young EMT and Paramedic trainees have the knowledge and the HPDs to ensure that their hearing will not be affected by noise exposure in the course of their future jobs.