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Emergency Services Ergonomics and Wellness

Download or order the handbook: Emergency Services Ergonomics and Wellness September 2020, 258 pages
  • Chapter 1 /

Emergency medical technician injury statistics overview

EMS personnel provide emergency medical care to patients prior to transporting them to the hospital. They face numerous potential hazards while working, including:

  • Lifting patients and equipment.
  • Handling infectious patients and hazardous chemicals.
  • Participating in transport of patients both on the ground and in the air.

The average number of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) injured annually between 2008 and 2016 was 23,411, with the greatest percentage occurring while responding to 911 calls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NIOSH, there was not an appreciable decrease in the overall total of injuries sustained over these nine years. Sprain and strains as the result of overexertion and bodily reactions are the most prevalent of all injury types incurred by EMTs. Between 2008 and 2016, sprains and strains made up an annual average of 37% of the total injuries sustained by EMTs (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2018). The following is a brief overview of EMS personnel injury statistics:

  • Sprains and strains of the neck and back, caused by overexertion, are the most common injuries to EMTs (NIOSH, 2018).
  • EMS workers with less than 10 years of experience sustain the greatest percentage of injuries (NIOSH, 2018).
  • Between 2008 and 2016, injuries to career EMTs occurred most often between the ages of 25 to 34 years (NIOSH, 2018).

Tables 1.3 through 1.6 provide data on the annual number of EMT injuries, the types and causes of injuries, and the ages of EMTs who are injured. All of the data in these four tables was provided by NIOSH.

Table 1.3. Annual number of EMT injuries
Source: NIOSH, 2018.
Total number of injuries21,50023,30023,50027,80024,20020,20021,30018,00021,900
Table 1.4. EMS injuries by diagnosis
Source: NIOSH, 2018.
Percentage of total injuries200820092010201120122013201420152016
Table 1.5. EMS injuries by cause
Source: NIOSH, 2018.
Percentage of total injuries200820092010201120122013201420152016
Contact with objects and equipment141615111215111111
Falls, slips, trips1110810121116158
Harmful exposures191917232220192019
Overexertion and bodily reaction413741383432353136
Transportation incidents789911
Table 1.6. EMS injuries by age group
Source: NIOSH, 2018.
Percentage of total injuries200820092010201120122013201420152016
<25 years142219172318151814
25-34 years402937363238393539
35-44 years282126262424282426
>44 years171818212121192222

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