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Occupational injury and illness rates for volunteer responders have not been well documented. We analyzed data specific to volunteers from the American Red Cross (ARC).
Data collected by the ARC between 2008 and 2012 were analyzed to identify disaster factors associated with responder injuries and illnesses. We focused on disaster-relief operation (DRO) level (indicating operational costs, ranging from 3 [lower] to 5+ [higher]); disaster type; region; and year. We calculated injury and illness rates and estimated rate ratios (RR) with 95% CI, using negative binomial regression. Also, we analyzed a total of 113 disasters.
Hurricanes had the highest rates of injuries (14/1000 responders) and illnesses (18/1000 responders). In the adjusted model for injuries, RRs were higher for DRO levels 4 (3.6 [CI, 2.0–6.7]) and 5+ (4.9 [CI, 2.2–11.0]) than for level 3. In the adjusted model for illnesses, RRs also were higher for DRO levels 4 (4.4 [CI, 2.6–7.3]) and 5+ (8.6 [CI, 4.1–17.7]) than for level 3.
Higher DRO levels were a significant predictor of greater rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Careful selection of responders, including volunteers, has been warranted for deployments to such disasters. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1-7)
In response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) deployed Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) and the Commissioned Corps to provide on-site, primary medical care to anyone who presented. Patients included rescue and recovery workers, other responders, and some members of the general public.
A descriptive analysis of WTC-USPHS patient records was conducted in order to better understandthe short-term impact of the WTC site on the safety and health of individuals who were at or near the site from 14 September–20 November 2001.
The Patient Treatment Record forms that were completed for each patient visit to these USPHS stations over the 10-week deployment period were reviewed.
Patient visits numbered 9,349, with visits peaking during Week 2 (21–27 September). More than one-quarter of the visits were due to traumatic injuries not including eye injuries (n = 2,716; 29%). Respiratory problems comprised more than one-fifth of the complaints (n = 2,011; 22%). Eye problems were the third most frequent complaint (n = 1,120; 12%). With respect to the triage class, the majority of visits fell into the lowest category of severity (n = 6,237; 67%).
USPHS visits probably were skewed to milder complaints when compared to analyses of employer medical department reports or hospital cases; however, given the close proximity of the USPHS stations to the damage, analysis of the USPHS forms provides a more complete picture of the safety and health impact on those who were at or near the WTC site.