Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel treat approximately 22 million patients a year in the U.S. However, little is known about the risks associated with this occupation. Purpose: determine the epidemiology of occupational injuries and illnesses among EMS personnel. Methods: two urban EMS agencies submitted 617 case reports for a study period that included an estimated 2,829,906 work hours by 409 full-time workers between January 1, 1998 and July 15, 2002. Cases were coded and evaluated by demographic factors, by EMS-specific factors and by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) criteria. Results: 502 cases met the BLS criteria for inclusion as recordable injuries or illnesses. 'Sprains, strains and tears' was the leading category of injury; 'Health care patient' was the leading source. The overall EMS injury and illness rate is 35.5 per 100 full-time workers. This is approximately six times higher than the national occupational average reported by BLS for 2000 (the mid-point of the study); the highest rate reported by BLS for that year was for meat packing plants (rate = 24.7). The national rate for firefighters is estimated to be 23.3. Of the 502 cases, 285 (57%) resulted in lost work days; the rate is 2,014.2 per 10,000 full-time workers. In comparison, the BLS national average was 181.1 (relative risk > 11). The relative risk for transportation incidents was greater than 30.Conclusion: a national database must be established to collect EMS injury and illness data. Further research and interventions must be implemented to begin mitigating this serious problem.
|Place of Publication||USA|
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|