Skip directly to local search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home



Vehicle Safety for Fire Fighters and Emergency Responders

crashed ambulance in research lab

NIOSH is collaborating with industry partners to reduce vehicle-related injuries and fatalities of emergency medical services (EMS) workers.  Specific areas of research include efforts to increase crash protection provided to EMS workers in ambulance patient compartments. Research conducted by NIOSH and industry partners has led to new standards for testing crashworthiness, and is expected to lead to additional comprehensive manufacturing and performance standards.

A story of impact: NIOSH continues research to improve safety for ambulance service workers and EMS responders
NIOSH Publication No. 2011-190

Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters Operating Modified Excess/Surplus Vehicles
NIOSH Publication No. 2011-125
Fire fighters may be at risk for crash-related injuries while operating excess and other surplus vehicles that have been modified for fire service use. NIOSH urges fire departments to take precautions and actions to minimize the hazards and risks to fire fighters when using modified excess/surplus vehicles.

A story of impact: NIOSH research leads to a reduction in safety hazards among ambulance service workers and EMS responders
NIOSH Publication No. 2010-164

Assessing the performance of various restraints on ambulance patient compartment workers during crash events
International Journal of Crashworthiness: October 2010 / 15(5):517-541 
The inability of emergency medical service (EMS) workers to remain safely restrained while treating patients in the patient compartment of a moving ambulance has been identified as a key impediment to EMS worker safety in North America. Results indicate that the inclusion of restraint systems offering mobility have the potential to improve worker safety under many working conditions in this unique work environment. 

SAE (2010). SAE Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J2917 for Occupant Restraint and Equipment Mounting Integrity – Frontal Impact System-Level Ambulance Patient Compartment
This SAE Recommended Practice describes the test procedures for conducting frontal impact occupant restraint and equipment mounting integrity tests for ambulance patient compartment applications. Its purpose is to establish recommended test procedures that will standardize restraint system and equipment mounting testing for ambulances. Descriptions of the test set-up, test instrumentation, photographic/video coverage, and the test fixtures are included.

Reducing firefighter vehicle crash fatalities
Fire Engineering: June 2009 / 162(6):79-84
The overall downward trend in on-duty firefighter fatalities over the past three decades is partly the result of a decrease in the number of structure fires. However, the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes and other related events has not declined during this period. The evaluation of FFFIPP suggests that firefighter deaths caused by motor vehicle incidents could be reduced by enforcing the use of seat belts at all times the vehicle is in motion and by providing additional driver/operator training, appropriate safety equipment, and effective compliance monitoring.

Crash testing of ambulance chassis cab vehicles
SAE 2007 Transactions Journal of Commercial Vehicles. Warrendale, PA: SAE International, 2008 Apr;1-19.
NIOSH, with partners, conducted a test program to evaluate the capability of mobile restraint systems to protect occupants in the patient compartment of an ambulance. This paper focuses on the vehicle chassis behavior and acceleration pulses as seen in each test conducted to support the program.

A review of recent accidents involving explosives transport
Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference on Explosives and Blasting Technique

National Truck Equipment Association, Ambulance Manufacturers Division Standard 025
This standard establishes the requirements for measuring the minimum acceptable dimension for an occupant workspace inside an ambulance based on static considerations.

Ambulance Crash-Related Injuries Among Emergency Medical Services Workers – United States, 1991-2002
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: February 28, 2003 / 52(8): 154-156
EMS workers are most at risk when transporting patients, or responding to or returning from emergency calls. This report highlights the risk of death or serious injury for EMS workers riding in ambulances.

Your Safety First: Railroad Crossing Safety for Emergency Responders
NIOSH Publication No. 2003-121
Reports fatalities of emergency responders struck and killed by trains at railroad grade crossings. Discusses safe driving at rail crossings, awareness of signs and warning devices, and how to react if a vehicle stalls on the tracks. Developed by NIOSH in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration and Operation Lifesaver, Inc.

Hazard ID: Fire Fighter Deaths from Tanker Truck Rollovers
NIOSH Publication No. 2002-111
Offers safety recommendations to increase awareness of this hazard among the fire service, focusing on the need for fire departments to train drivers about the operating characteristics of tanker trucks and to ensure that tankers are properly designed and equipped.
En español

Hazard ID: Traffic Hazards to Fire Fighters While Working Along Roadways
NIOSH Publication No. 2001-143
Provides case studies and recommendations, emphasizing the importance of pre-incident planning, standard operating procedures, and training to protect responder safety at incident sites.
En español


Contact Us: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO