Online Program

Emergency Responder Injuries Resulting from Acute Chemical Releases, 2002 to 2012

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Alice Yang, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Emergency responders including firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical services (EMS), face significant hazards, among them exposure to hazardous chemicals,  as they carry out their missions.

To describe emergency responder injuries that resulted from acute chemical releases, we analyzed data from two surveillance programs at the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: the National Toxic Substances Incidents Program (2010-2012) and its predecessor, the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (2002-2009). We conducted frequency distributions on chemical substances, injury types, and personal protective equipment (PPE) on incidents that had injured responders.

Volatile organic compounds were the most frequently released chemicals in incidents that resulted in responder injuries. The most frequent injury types varied between different responder categories. Overall, the most frequently reported injury was respiratory problems. PPE use varied by responder category.  Different types of injuries were associated with different levels of PPE, but overall wearing no PPE was associated with the greatest number of injuries (39.7%).

It is critical for responder organizations and policymakers to recognize the different health risks that responders face during chemical release incidents. Our results can help guide policies to reduce the incidence of responder injuries. Future studies should focus on how current training requirements can be enhanced to reduced responder injuries from chemical exposure, and should determine best PPE recommendations for different types of chemical releases and develop unique guidelines tailored different types of responders.


Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe injuries endured by emergency responders as a result of responding to acute chemical releases 2) Differentiate different injuries and personal protective equipment use between different responders (e.g. police officers vs. firefighters) 3) Analyze data from national surveillance programs at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Keyword(s): Chemical Exposures & Prevention, Emergency Preparedness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I received my MPH in May 2015 in the area of Epidemiology. I currently am a CSTE fellow working in the Hawaii state health department. Over the summer of 2014 I worked extensively on this paper with ATSDR as part of my internship. I am the first author because I organized and analyzed the data from the two surveillance programs (HSEES and NTSIP) and wrote the first draft.
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.