Occupational injuries among emergency responders

Am J Ind Med. 2010 Jan;53(1):1-11. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20772.


Background: Emergency responders frequently incur injuries while providing medical, fire, and law enforcement services. National surveillance systems provide fragmented perspectives on responder injuries because they omit specific classes of workers (e.g., government or volunteers); they report only selected injuries; and employment information is incomplete.

Methods: We characterized injuries among emergency medical services (EMS), firefighting, and police occupations by using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Occupational Supplement (NEISS-Work) for injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2000-2001.

Results: Sprains and strains were the leading injury (33-41%) among EMS, firefighter, and police occupations. Police officers and career firefighters had the highest injury rates (8.5 and 7.4 injuries per 100 full-time equivalent workers, respectively).

Conclusions: The physical demands of emergency response are a leading cause of injuries that may benefit from similar interventions across the occupations. To assess risk, improved exposure data need to be acquired, particularly for volunteers.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Causality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Fires / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Police / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*