Ambulance crash-related injuries among EMS workers.
Bobick TG; Proudfoot SL; Romano NT; Moore PH; Current RS; Green JD
NOIRS 2003: Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 28-30, 2003, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Oct; :50-51
Ambulance crashes are one of many hazards faced by U.S. emergency medical services (EMS) workers. EMS personnel have an estimated fatality rate of 12.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, more than twice the national average. NIOSH's Division of Safety Research is engaged in a project investigating EMS worker fatalities from ambulance crashes. This project involves: surveillance data analysis, crash investigations, computer modeling, sled testing of occupant restraint systems, and ambulance crash testing. The project's goal is to define injury risk and evaluate restraint systems for EMS workers This presentation is focused on an analysis of surveillance data and selected NIOSH crash investigations. Data analysis used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). FARS is a census of fatal vehicle crashes. NIOSH conducted field investigations of fatal crashes, and evaluated NHTSA reconstruction reports of selected fatal incidents. From 1991-2000, there were 300 fatal crashes involving ambulances. In these incidents, 82 occupants were killed, of which 27 were EMS providers. Of these, seven were in the patient compartment, five in the right-front passenger seat, II in the driver's seat, and four were uncoded. Ambulance drivers experience the majority of less-severe injuries (coded "Possible" and "Non-Incapacitating Evident"), while patient compartment occupants (EMS providers and civilians) are most likely to suffer "Incapacitating" and "Fatal" injuries. In incidents involving fatalities to EMS providers, failure to wear seatbelt restraints appears to be the primary factor. Seat belts do not allow complete access to patients who need appropriate medical attention. Improved restraint systems are needed for the patient compartment that permit workers to stand and attend to the patient, yet still protect workers during sudden stops or avoidance maneuvers. Also, restraints should be used by all occupants, including the driver and front-seat passenger.
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