injured person being transportedWith studies showing that EMS workers have higher rates of non-fatal injuries and illnesses as compared to the general worker population, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is proposing research that will provide a detailed description of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses incurred by EMS workers.

The project will use two related data sources: medical records of EMS workers treated in a nationally stratified sample of emergency department and data from telephone interview surveys of the injured and ill EMS workers identified within the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS-Work).

“As EMS professionals are tasked with protecting the health of the public and treating urgent medical needs, it follows that understanding and preventing injuries and illnesses among EMS workers will have a benefit reaching beyond the workers to the general public,” according to a statement by NIOSH.

Data previously collected shows that EMS workers are willing to respond to detailed questions about their occupational injury and related circumstances.

In order to obtain enough data to produce stable, detailed national estimates, NIOSH is seeking to continue data collection that’s already underway until July 1, 2014 – which would provide a total of four years of data for analysis.

The ongoing telephone interview surveys will supplement NEISS-Work data with an extensive description of EMS worker injuries and illnesses, including worker characteristics, injury types, injury circumstances, injuryoutcomes, and use of personal protective equipment. Previous reports describing occupational injuries and illnesses to EMS workers provide limited details on specific regions or sub-segments of the population. As compared to these earlier studies, the scope of the telephone interview data will be broader as it includes sampled cases nationwide and has no limitations in regards to type of employment (i.e., volunteer versus career). Results from the telephone interviews will be weighted and reported as estimates of EMS workers treated for occupational injuries and illnesses in emergency departments.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Division of Safety Research in the NIOSH and the Office of Emergency Medical Services in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Both agencies have a strong interest in improving surveillance of EMS worker injuries and illnesses to provide the information necessary for effectively targeting and implementing prevention efforts and, consequently, reducing occupational injuries and illnesses among EMS workers.