Occupational Fatalities in Emergency Medical Services: A Hidden Crisis

Brain J. Maguire, Katherine L. Hunting, Gordon S. Smith, Nadine R. Levick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Citations (Scopus)


STUDY OBJECTIVE: We estimate the occupational fatality rate among emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in the United States.METHODS: We undertook descriptive epidemiology of occupational fatalities among EMS providers. Analysis was conducted by using data from 3 independent fatality databases: the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (1992 to 1997), the National EMS Memorial Service (1992 to 1997), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (1994 to 1997). These rates were compared with the occupational fatality rates of police and firefighters and with the rate of all employed persons in the United States.RESULTS: The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries database documented 91 EMS provider occupational fatalities. The National EMS Memorial Service database contained 70 fatalities, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System identified 8 ground-transportation EMS occupational fatalities. There was also wide variation in fatality counts by cause of injury. Using the highest cause-specific count from each of the databases, we estimate that there were at least 67 ground transportation-related fatalities, 19 air ambulance crash fatalities, 13 deaths resulting from cardiovascular incidents, 10 homicides, and 5 other causes, resulting in 114 EMS worker fatalities during these 6 years. We estimated a rate of 12.7 fatalities per 100,000 EMS workers annually, which compares with 14.2 for police, 16.5 for firefighters, and a national average of 5.0 during the same time period.CONCLUSION: This study identifies an occupational fatality rate for EMS workers that exceeds that of the general population and is comparable with that of other emergency public service workers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-632
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


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