1.15.2008

Medic! EMS Workers Likely to Get Injured On the Job

Being a first responder is hell on one's health -- just ask the guys who showed up on 9/11. Here's a report that validates what I've observed riding an ambulance, heavy, sick people and a sense of urgency can break one's back and force you to miss work. Worse if you are a volunteer (like I am) Then you miss work at your real job for something you are doing for free. To combat this in our department, we're investing in powered stretchers that can help lift heavy patients. Still, the NYTimes has the details on the latest study.

A new study finds that ambulance workers stand a good chance of being hurt on the job, with 8 percent likely to miss work because of a job-related injury or illness in any given year.Writing in the December issue of The American Journal of Industrial Medicine, researchers noted that emergency medical services workers were exposed to a variety of health risks, including pathogens and the occasional uncooperative patient. But the study found that most injuries were caused by lifting patients.“You’ve got to move people not just from the sidewalk to the ambulance but up and down flights of stairs,” said the lead author, Jonathan R. Studnek, an E.M.S. worker who is a graduate student at Ohio State University.The researchers based their findings on a survey of ambulance workers from 1999 to 2005. They found that the injury rate was much higher than the national average for job-related injuries, which they put at about 1 per 100 a year. At any given time, they said, almost 1 out of 10 emergency medical workers were missing work because of injury or illness suffered on the job.



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