The epidemiology of occupational injuries and illnesses among emergency medical services personnel.

Brian J. Maguire

Research output: Book/ReportBook


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.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUSA
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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