201598 Injuries and fatalities among EMTs and paramedics: Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data to identify risks

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:00 AM

Brian J. Maguire, DrPH, MSA, EMT-P , EHS, UMBC, Baltimore, MD
Sean Smith, MBA , Office of Safety, Health, and Working Conditions, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC

Emergency medical services personnel respond to 30 million calls for assistance each year in the U.S. Recent research has identified this group of workers as having a very high risk of occupational injury and fatality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that EMTs and paramedics held about 201,000 jobs in 2006. This study utilizes BLS data to further identify risks among these workers.


We describe rates and proportions associated with the 21,690 injury cases with lost work days and 59 fatality cases occurring to EMTs and paramedics between 2003 and 2007.


Three thousand, seven hundred and ten cases (17%) resulted in 31 or more days of lost work time. Over 14,000 cases (67%) were sprains or strains; the back was injured in 9,290 cases (43%); the patient was listed as the source of injury in 7,960 cases (37%). The most common events were overexertion (56%), falls (10%), transportation (9%) and contact with object (8%). There were 530 assault cases. In 2007, EMTs and paramedics suffered 349.9 injuries with days away from work per 10,000 fulltime workers, compared to an average of 122.2 for all private industry occupations. Of the 59 fatalities, 51 (86%) were transportation related; five (8%) were assaults; and 33 (56%) were classified as “Multiple traumatic injuries”.


EMS workers have a risk of injury that is about three times higher than the national average. Support must be provided for further research and for the development of interventions to mitigate this serious problem.

Learning Objectives:
1) identify the occupational injury risk associated with EMS workers; 2) assess how the risks for this group compare to the nation; 3) describe the methods associated with determining occupational risks at both the local and national level.

Keywords: EMS/Trauma, Injury Risk

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctoral degree in public health and I have previously presented at APHA. My 23 publications include many related to this topic and I have been a university faculty member since 1994.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.