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Acute Chemical Incidents With Injured First Responders, 2002–2012
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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    28760164
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5794641
  • Description:
    Introduction

    First responders, including firefighters, police officers, emergency medical services, and company emergency response team members, have dangerous jobs that can bring them in contact with hazardous chemicals among other dangers. Limited information is available on responder injuries that occur during hazardous chemical incidents.

    Methods

    We analyzed 2002–2012 data on acute chemical incidents with injured responders from 2 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry chemical incident surveillance programs. To learn more about such injuries, we performed descriptive analysis and looked for trends.

    Results

    The percentage of responders among all injured people in chemical incidents has not changed over the years. Firefighters were the most frequently injured group of responders, followed by police officers. Respiratory system problems were the most often reported injury, and the respiratory irritants, ammonia, methamphetamine-related chemicals, and carbon monoxide were the chemicals more often associated with injuries. Most of the incidents with responder injuries were caused by human error or equipment failure. Firefighters wore personal protective equipment (PPE) most frequently and police officers did so rarely. Police officers’ injuries were mostly associated with exposure to ammonia and methamphetamine-related chemicals. Most responders did not receive basic awareness-level hazardous material training.

    Conclusion

    All responders should have at least basic awareness-level hazardous material training to recognize and avoid exposure. Research on improving firefighter PPE should continue.

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