Emergency Medical Service Occupational Safety
This chapter explores emergency medical service (EMS) occupational safety issues, the implications of those safety issues, and potential remedies. It examines both fatal and nonfatal injury risks among EMS personnel. Causes of fatalities among EMS workers include assault and myocardial infarction. Back injuries tend to be the most common type of nonfatal injury reported among EMS personnel. Research from Australia has shown that there is no occupational group in the country with a higher injury or fatality rate than EMS personnel. Anecdotal information indicates that some ambulance services in the United States have issued bulletproof vests to their EMS personnel. Anecdotal reports continue to suggest that some ambulance agencies are scheduling personnel for 24 and more straight hours of work. EMS agencies that schedule personnel for shifts in excess of 12 hours should reevaluate their scheduling patterns in light of the risks that long shifts pose to employees, to patients, and to the community.