Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and back injury in ambulance officers

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2005 May;78(4):332-6. doi: 10.1007/s00420-004-0577-3. Epub 2005 Apr 13.


Objective: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is frequently performed by allied health professionals, and, if undertaken in compromised positions, it may induce injury to the rescuer's spine. Back pain as an occupational symptom in manual workers has received considerable attention in the medical literature, but there is no report on the effect of CPR on back discomfort. This article reports a survey that explored the difficulties encountered by ambulance officers during the CPR procedure.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to ambulance officers who had CPR experience through the Director and station officers-in-charge of the Fire Services Department in Hong Kong.

Results: Analysis of 318 completed questionnaires showed that the duration of the CPR procedure could last up to 32 min. Two hundred and ninety ambulance officers had experience in delivering CPR on a bed, and 60% of them often had to climb onto the bed with their legs overhanging to perform CPR. Eighty-nine percent were often required to turn their head or twist their back to look at the monitor during CPR. Almost 60% complained of always, and 36% sometimes, experiencing back discomfort during CPR. Only 4.5% had no experience of back discomfort during CPR. Seventy-six (24%) respondents suffered back injury, and as many as 62% of these 76 officers considered the cause of their back injury was related to CPR delivery. Nearly 50% of respondents reported that it was difficult to maintain balance and concurrently deliver CPR while travelling in the ambulance or when the patient was being transported from one location to another.

Conclusions: Results of this survey suggest that there is a need to review the support given to ambulance officers to ensure safe administration of CPR, particularly during ambulance transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulances*
  • Back Injuries / etiology*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Spine / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires