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Emergency responders at high risk to miss work because of injuries
Date:1/7/2008

ration to describe the characteristics of emergency medical services workers in the United States . Within that survey, the Ohio State researchers looked specifically at self-reported absence from work caused by work-related injury or illness, and work-life characteristics associated with those absences.

They looked at a cross-sectional snapshot of injury and illness among emergency workers and also watched for trends over time, between 1999 and 2005. Both types of analyses connected a high call volume and a history of recent back problems to a higher likelihood of injury among EMTs and paramedics.

About 900,000 certified emergency medical services professionals responded to more than 17 million calls in 2005. The most common injuries these professionals suffer are exposure to blood-borne pathogens from needle sticks, musculoskeletal injuries associated with lifting and moving patients, various wounds inflicted by violent patients, and injuries caused by traffic accidents involving ambulances.

There's no doubt many of these types of injuries occur among people who often have to rely on their backs to do something that's not in their best interest. They need to make something happen fast and can't wait for help, so they put themselves into positions they shouldn't, said John Mac Crawford, assistant professor of environmental health sciences in Ohio State 's College of Public Health and a co-author of the study.

The public health implications go beyond these circumscribed professional groups. Patient safety is at stake, and there are liability issues, as well.

Along with the average 9.4 percent of injured or ill EMTs at any one time among all participants examined, the researchers found the prevalence of lost-work injuries was highest among those with a very high call volume (22.3 percent) and back problems (21.0 percent). Very high call volume was defined as 40 or more calls per week.

The analysis of several
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Contact: John "Mac" Crawford
mcrawford@cph.osu.edu
614-293-6804
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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