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EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES WORKERS

Injury and Illness Data

EMS Star of Life symbol

2011 Data

The NEISS-Work data in the tables below include all nonfatal injuries and illnesses that occurred during the performance of paid or volunteer EMS duties. “Fire fighters” were included when they were injured while performing EMS duties such as patient care, patient transport, patient rescue, or working in an ambulance.

Table 1: Among EMS workers treated in emergency departments (EDs) for an occupational injury or illness, the majority of workers were men. Among men and women, just over half of the injured/ill EMS workers were less than 35 years of age.

Table 1: Demographics of injured/ill EMS workers treated in
US hospital emergency departments, 2011
 Number of injuries/illnesses95% confidence intervalPercent
Total27,800(15,200, 40,500)100
Sex
Male17,900(9,700, 26,000)64
Female9,900(5,200, 14,700)36
Age group (in yrs)a
<254,600(2,000, 7,300)17
25-3410,100(5,200, 15,000)36
35-447,200b(2,400, 11,900)26
>446,000(2,700, 9,200)21

a The numbers may not sum to the total due to rounding.
b This estimate is provided for information only as the variance does not meet NEISS-Work reporting requirements. The higher variance means it is less stable than other reported estimates. Use this number with caution.

Table 2: Among EMS worker injuries and illnesses, sprains and strains were the most common diagnosis. Most injuries affected the lower and upper trunk. The greatest portion of injuries/illnesses involved bodily reactions and exertion. The bodily reactions and exertions frequently resulted from a single incident of free bodily motion which imposed stress or strain on some part of the body or from excessive physical effort. The second most common event related to injuries and illnesses was exposures to harmful substances such as potentially infectious materials (e.g., blood). Among all of the injuries and illnesses, the most common sources which directly produced the injury or illness involved the EMS worker themselves or another person such as a patient.

Table 2: Selected characteristics of EMS worker injuries and illnesses treated in
US hospital emergency departments, 2011
 Number of injuries/illnessesa95% confidence intervalPercenta
Total27,800(15,200, 40,500)100
Diagnosis
Sprains & strains11,300(4,800, 17,800)41
Contusions/abrasions4,100(1,800, 6,400)15
Body part affected
Lower trunk5,800(2,400, 9,300)21
Upper trunk, inc.
neck & shoulder
5,700(2,800, 8,600)20
Hand & finger3,200(1,600, 4,900)12
Arm3,000(1,500, 4,600)11
Leg, including foot2,800b(700, 4,900)10
Eventc
Bodily reaction &
exertion (2)
10,500(4,200, 16,900)38
Harmful exposures (3)6,400(3,000, 9,800)23
Contact with objects &
equipment (0)
3,000(1,400, 4,600)11
Falls (1)2,800(1,700, 4,000)10
Transportation
incidents (4)
2,400(1,100, 3,600)9
Assaults & violent acts (6)2,100b(500, 3,700)7
Sourcec
Persons, plants, animals,
& minerals (5)d
14,200(6,500, 22,000)51
Tools, instruments, and
equipment (7)
3,700(1,700, 5,700)13
Vehicles (8)3,500(1,800, 5,200)13
Structures & surfaces (6)2,500(1,300, 3,800)9
Discharge disposition from ED
Treated and released27,100(14,700, 39,600)98

a Numbers and percentages might not add to totals or 100 because of rounding and omission of data not meeting NEISS-Work reporting requirements.
b This estimate is provided for information only as the variance does not meet NEISS-Work reporting requirements. The higher variance means it is less stable than other reported estimates. Use this number with caution.
c Events and sources are coded using Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) (version 1.01). The numbers in parentheses after each category represent major division codes in the OIICS hierarchical coding structure.
d The majority of these injuries involved other people or bodily motion of the injured worker themselves.

Table 3: The majority of sprain and strain injuries involved the EMS worker’s trunk, although lower extremity sprains or strains were also common. Most sprains and strains, but not all, were noted in connection with bodily reactions or exertion. Falls and other kinds of injury events were occasionally related to sprains or strains. Almost half of all sprain and strain injuries were related to interactions with a patient.

Table 3: Selected characteristics of EMS worker sprain and strain injuries treated in
US hospital emergency departments, 2011
 Number of injuries/illnessesa95% confidence intervalPercenta
Total11,300(4,800, 17,800)100
Body part affected
Lower trunk4,000b(1,300, 6,600)35
Upper trunk, inc. neck &
shoulder
3,900(1,600, 6,200)34
Lower extremity1,900b(300, 3,400)17
Event
Bodily reaction & exertion8,400(3,300, 13,500)74
Sourcec
Healthcare patient or
resident of a healthcare
facility (573)
5,200b(1,600, 8,800)46
Bodily motions/position of
injured worker (562)
1,700(800, 2,700)15

a Numbers and percentages might not add to totals or 100 because of rounding and omission of data not meeting NEISS-Work reporting requirements.
b This estimate is provided for information only as the variance does not meet NEISS-Work reporting requirements. The higher variance means it is less stable than other reported estimates. Use this number with caution.
c Events and sources are coded using Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) (version 1.01). The numbers in parentheses after each category represent codes in the OIICS hierarchical coding structure.

For questions about the NEISS-Work data specific to EMS workers, please contact:

Audrey Reichard, MPH, OTR
Epidemiologist
(304)285-6019
AReichard@cdc.gov

 
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  • Page last reviewed: June 23, 2014
  • Page last updated: June 21, 2013
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