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NIOSH EMS Projects

EMS Star of Life Symbol

Occupational injuries and illnesses among emergency medical services (EMS) workers

This is a collaborative project with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Emergency Medical Services. The purpose of this project is to conduct research to provide a detailed description of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses incurred by EMS workers, including the nature, circumstances, and outcomes of the injuries and illnesses and the characteristics of the injured or ill workers.

Project contact: Audrey Reichard
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 2009-2016

Partnering with Industry to Build Safe EMS Work Environments

This project will build on previous NIOSH research aimed at reducing or eliminating vehicle crash-related injuries and fatalities to Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers in ambulance patient compartments.  NIOSH will use the wealth of research data generated on this and predecessor projects to directly influence changes to four standards now used in the design of an ambulance.  The targeted standard setting bodies and documents are: the General Services Administration’s Federal Specification for the Star-of-Life Ambulance; the Ambulance Manufacturer’s Division of the National Truck Equipment Association’s Ambulance Standards, the National Fire Protection Association’s 1917 Automotive Ambulance Standard and the Society for Automotive Engineer’s Truck and Bus Crashworthiness Committee. The research team has secured the agreement and cooperation of each of these entities to work toward this common goal and has, as of 2013, provided input to or directly published standards language with each.

Project contact: James Green
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 2008-2014

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

The purpose of this project is to reduce fire fighter fatalities by identifying work situations at high risk for fatal injury and formulating prevention strategies for those who can intervene in the workplace. NIOSH conducts on-site investigations of many fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to identify the circumstances and conditions that contributed to the fatality, and then broadly disseminates recommendations for preventing future similar occurrences.

Project contact: Tim Merinar
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 1997-2016

UVGI Systems for Respiratory Reuse and Ambulance Disinfection During a Pandemic

The project seeks to develop two critical tools for an infectious epidemic response: respirator ultraviolet sanitation equipment (ReUSE) and ambulance module surface disinfection (AMSD) systems, complete with evidence-based implementation protocols. This is a timely requirement, as there will be insufficient developmental time once a pandemic starts. Establishing the ReUSE and AMSD systems now allows first-responders, healthcare workers, and planners to become familiar with the technologies and protocols, so they are ready when an epidemic occurs.

Project contact: Stephen Martin
Division of Respiratory Disease Studies
(304) 285-6367
Project period: 2012-2015

Pandemic Influenza Research

This project addresses occupational safety and health goals to protect (1) transportation (and traveling) workers from airborne exposures within commercial aircraft and (2) healthcare workers/emergency responders from airborne, close-range airborne and droplet infectious disease transmission. The project component specific to ambulance research will develop and publish engineering interventions that reduce disease transfer risk within the ambulance and facilitate the translation of research findings into federal ambulance design specifications.

Project contact: Kenneth Mead
Division of Applied Research and Technology
Project period: 2009-2014

IDLH Values for Emergency Responders

The purpose of this project is to develop immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) values for high priority chemicals based on the current state of science and risk assessment that are applied in emergency preparedness plans and emergency response.

Project contact: Gary Scott Dotson
Education and Information Division
Project period: 2010-2014

Deriving Hazard Bands to Protect Emergency Responders

It is a mission of NIOSH to develop information on safe levels of exposure to toxic materials and harmful physical agents and substances. Emergency responders have unique exposures and are commonly exposed to agents that do not have Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) and Acute Exposure Guideline Values (AEGL) values.  The completion of this project will result in the development of tools to assist the occupational health and emergency response communities using health hazard bands.  The public health impact of this project includes improvements to the risk assessment process and implementation of appropriate exposure controls during emergency planning and response to protect emergency responders, clean up and restoration workers from acute or short-term exposures.

Project contact: Lauralynn McKernan
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8542
Project period: 2011-2014

Dermal Exposures within Emergency Settings

The purpose of this project is to develop 1) skin notation assignments for high priority chemicals and 2) a decision logic process to be used as a dermal exposure/risk assessment tool for risk management and emergency response planning.

Project contact: Gary Scott Dotson
Education and Information Division
Project period: 2010-2014

NFPA Protective Clothing and Equipment Standards Development

The project purpose is continuous improvement in emergency services personal protective equipment (PPE) by the revision of existing standards and development of new standards. This continuous process considers new material technologies and design configurations which can be driven by performance criteria mandated in PPE certification standards. The implementation of these National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards enhances worker safety and health hazard prevention. NIOSH staff at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory participate in the revision process of NFPA protective clothing, equipment, and selection, care and maintenance standards according to a timeline mandated by NFPA.

Project contact: William Haskell
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
Project period: 2006-2017

Development of Performance and Design Criteria for Isolation Gowns

The purpose of this project is to improve isolation gown selection and use compliance among healthcare workers by developing information products, performance and design requirements. It is aimed to evaluate currently used isolation gowns to determine existing performance, performance and design limitations as well as interface issues.  The specific goals are to determine the protection, comfort level, tolerability and interface issues with the most common isolation gowns currently in use and to define performance and design requirements based on the results and end user feedback. 

Project contact: Selcen Kilinc-Balci
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4086
Project period: 2011-2014

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