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EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES WORKERS

	ambulance workers with patient

Emergency medical services (EMS) workers provide pre-hospital emergency medical care. Their duties create an inherent risk for on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Research shows that EMS workers have high rates of fatal injuries and nonfatal injuries and illnesses.

Who are EMS workers?

Vital to disaster response, EMS workers include: first responders, emergency medical technicians (EMT), paramedics, and others whose titles may not always suggest their EMS duties. For example, firefighters and nurses may provide pre-hospital emergency care as part of their routine job duties.

	Star of Life IconThe 2011 National EMS Assessment reported a total of 826,000 licensed and credentialed EMS professionals in the United States. This estimate includes paid and volunteer EMS workers. The 2015 Current Population Survey estimate for full-time employed EMTs and paramedics was 241,600.
 

What job hazards do EMS workers face?

EMS workers face many potential job hazards, including:

	Ambulance Gurney Icon
  • Lifting patients and equipment
  • Treating patients with infectious illnesses
  • Handling hazardous chemical and body substances
  • Participating in the emergency transport of patients in ground and air vehicles

How is NIOSH working to prevent EMS injuries and illnesses?

Collaborating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Emergency Medical Services, NIOSH uses the occupational supplement to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System ( NEISS-Work ) to collect data on nonfatal injuries and illnesses among EMS workers.

In 2014, there were an estimated 21,300 injuries and illnesses among EMS workers that were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. The most recent injury and illness data are described in the data section of this topic page.

There are a number of other coordinated efforts by various Federal agencies to improve occupational safety and health for EMS workers. Information on some of these efforts is available at www.ems.gov.

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