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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.

EMS Provider Infographic
EMS Provider Infographic

EMS providers: You are critical to public health and safety. You are also at high risk for injuries and exposures at work. Learn how to protect yourself. Download the award-winning infographicpdf icon

EMS Employer Fact Sheet
First page of NIOSH numbered document 2017-194

Learn about results from a 4-year study capturing data from EMS workers treated in emergency departments, and get recommendations to prevent injuries and exposures. Download the fact sheet

Ambulance Crash Test Infographic
Ambulance Infographic

NIOSH and the Department of Homeland Security partnered with other federal agencies and ambulance manufacturers to crash-test ambulances. Download the infographicpdf icon

Fentanyl Exposure
Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of fentanyl

Get updated recommendations from NIOSH on preventing fentanyl exposure among emergency responders.

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.

EMS worker icon

The 2020 National EMS Assessmentpdf iconexternal icon reported a total of 1,030,760 licensed EMS professionals, from emergency medical responders to paramedics, in the United States. This estimate includes paid and volunteer EMS workers.

The 2019 Current Population Survey estimate for full-time employed EMTs and paramedics was 219,000. This estimate is limited to paid EMS workers.

What job hazards do EMS workers face?

EMS workers face many potential job hazards, including:

EMS workers with patient on 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,external icon 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 2020, there were an estimated 16,900 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.external icon

Page last reviewed: March 11, 2022