The Most Dangerous Job in Public Safety?

Part of the EMS 2.0 mission is to improve the standard of our profession in clinical practice, knowlege base, technology, and safety. These combined makes what I am about to share with you pretty scary. Studies are finally starting to show the REAL danger that is out there from working in EMS. I was cruising the EMS Information sites today and looking at some of the articles that were published in JEMS during the November 2011 issue, by David Page, MS, EMT-P  Titled: “Studies Show Dangers of Working in EMS.”

Studies are showing EMS to be one of the most dangerous professions. Data was examined from 2003 to 2007 found that there were 65 EMS Fatalities, or 13 per year.

“Forty-five percent (29) of EMS worker deaths resulted from highway incidents, mostly due to vehicle collisions, and an additional 12% (8) involved personnel being struck by vehicles. Thirty-one percent (20) of EMS fatalities involved air transportation incidents. It’s important to note that these statistics don’t take into account any civilian or patient deaths that may have occurred as a result of EMS crashes or other incidents.” David Page MS, EMT-P

That is insane!!

We are in a field that is based soley in transportation. We answer a 911 call, we respond to said 911 call, and we transport the patient to the hospital. We haven’t gotten our profession to a treat and release basis yet (frankly I don’t think I want it to get there). So a majority of our mission is transporting a patient, and that is what is killing us the most? WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

Let me give you some examples:

Fire – they figured out that fire will burn you, and smoke will destroy your lungs. Solution? Better bunker gear, and better SCBA to improve respiratory function during interior operations .

Police – They realized…oh hey…bullets? Yeah they’re dangerous…lets put something protect us from that!

EMS – 45% of worker fatalities between 2003 and 2007 were related to 99% of our job function? Oh, but the R&D is too much to come up with a solution?

Give me a break.

I’d love to see our vehicles get to a point where we have a 5 star crash rating for both crew and patient compartments. I realize that isn’t going to happen overnight. This is a two way street where we need to be vigilant as much as management needs to be willing to provide proper equipment and training to make our job safer.

I hope the numbers have decreased since the last data set was collected (2003-2007), because these numbers are just too outrageous to ignore. The official study can be found in Prehospital Emergency Care Fatal and nonfatal injuries among emergency medical technicians & paramedics. Prehosp Emerg Care. 2011;15(4):511–517. A simple Google version will bring you to it.

Until then please remember to come to a complete stop at a red light, and don’t just “roll through it,” Look four times instead of two, and wear a safety vest or some sort of  high visibility uniform attire.

Stay Safe out there everyone, I don’t want to have to stop to give YOU a moment of silence.

Here’s a little collection of Ambulance crashes I have found through Google searches, just in case you were feeling safe and secure in your rig….

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