Fatal and nonfatal injuries among emergency medical technicians and paramedics

Prehosp Emerg Care. Oct-Dec 2011;15(4):511-7. doi: 10.3109/10903127.2011.598610. Epub 2011 Aug 11.


Background: Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics serve as primary providers of urgent medical care and are integral components in disaster response. They are at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries during these activities.

Objectives: To describe fatal and nonfatal injuries occurring to EMTs and paramedics.

Methods: We analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the occupational supplement to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS-Work) for the period 2003-2007.

Results: We identified 99,400 (95% confidence interval [CI], 71,700, 127,100) nonfatal injuries treated in emergency departments and 65 fatal injuries from the period 2003-2007. Most fatalities were related to motor vehicle incidents (45%) and aircraft crashes (31%). Among compensated EMTs and paramedics, the rate of fatal injuries was 6.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalents. Nonfatal injuries were primarily associated with stress on some part of the body from motion or overexertion (33%). Among all nonfatal injuries, the most common diagnosis was sprains and strains (38%).

Conclusions: Emergency medical technicians and paramedics have higher fatal injury rates when compared with all workers. To reduce fatalities, targeted efforts should be made to prevent ground and air transportation incidents. Reducing nonfatal injuries may be accomplished by developing and evaluating interventions to prevent bodily stress and overexertion injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Injuries / mortality
  • Population Surveillance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workforce
  • Young Adult