Purpose: Treatment and prevention strategies regarding people who jump from medium height bridges over water could be optimized by an improved understanding of patient demographics and injury spectra. Currently, little is known about this EMS patient population. We sought to describe the demographics and injuries sustained by those who jumped or fell from medium height bridges.
Methods: We searched the River Rescue and EMS reports of a medium size city for the ten year period 1986–1995 to identify cases involving a person who jumped/fell from a bridge into water. Additional cases were identified by searching coroner and trauma center registries. For each case, we reviewed applicable EMS, hospital, and coroner records to determine patient demographics, treatment provided, and injuries sustained.
Results: We identified 76 cases of individuals who jumped/fell from bridges into water. Eighteen of the region's 24 bridges (40 to 100 feet high) were involved. Average patient age was 34.8 years, 87% were male, and 29% jumped during July. These jumps/falls resulted in 25 (33%) deaths and 22 (29%) uninjured persons. Of those who died, 18 (72%) drowned, sustaining no other detectable injuries. Hospitalized survivors and injured coroner cases suffered predominantly extremity and rib fractures, pneumo/hemothoraces, and closed head injuries. No neck injuries were identified. No patient whose advanced level EMS treatment exceeded basic monitoring and IV access survived.