Culture and related change in the fire service has become a major focal point in recent years, particularly where safety is concerned. The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University released information on firefighter safety culture and culture change, and future applications of safe practices in our industry. Dr. Bill Jenaway, VP of VFIS, serves on their Advisory Board. Highlights include:
1. New FEMA R&D Grant to study “Stress and Violence in fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER)”
Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS, Director of FIRST, announced the receipt of a $1.5 million grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant R&D Program (AFG) run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The new project, “Stress and Violence in fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER),” responds to seven of FEMA’s national prevention priorities on firefighter safety projects “designed to measurably change firefighter behavior and decision-making”. FEMA R&D grant funding have never addressed the EMS aspect of fire before, which accounts for 70-90% of the work. The SAVER study seeks to address the lack of research in this area and determine the predictors of fire-based EMS responder injury and stress.
2. USFA Report: “Mitigation of Occupational Violence to Firefighters and EMS Responders”
This report was created by the FIRST team through USFA’s funding of a contract to IAFF. The goal was to examine violence against the fire service. Specifically, the report identified the need to create reliable and consistent epidemiological data on violence against EMS responders to identify risk factors associated with violent exposures and develop effective policies, procedures and practices to best address the issue, all of which are core objectives of the SAVER grant (above).
3. 48 Seconds for Occupational Health Surveillance
Three million Americans succumb to workplace injuries and illness annually, costing $250 billion; yet there is no tracking system for occupational disease and injury in the US. A new study makes the case for adopting I/O standards in healthcare: “Time Well Spent: Patient Industry and Occupation Data Collection in Emergency Departments” published in the Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine. In an effort supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighter Grant R&D Program, scientists from the Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends assessed the time and cost of making I/O enquiries in emergency departments. On average, it took 48 seconds. The cost incurred by accounting for the average number of patients seen per year and the average registrar salary was $520-$623 per registrar. The total annual cost for two participating hospitals to gather industry and occupation information on every patient was $4,160 and $15,000. The costs for hospitals to create a surveillance system for occupational injuries and illnesses were found to be reasonable and manageable. No undue burden was observed in comparison with the estimated $250 billion cost of occupational illnesses and injuries.
4. Ladders and Lifting
“Ladders and Lifting: How Gender Impacts Safety Behaviors in the Fire Service,” published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, explores how safety behaviors are impacted by gender in the fire service. The study illuminates women firefighters as “outsiders within”, observing reasons why they may be more likely to weigh the risks and benefits of dangerous situations, focus on biomechanics and technique, ask for help, report injuries, speak up and experience hostile work environments.
5. 2nd Annual Class of FIRE Fellows 2017
This summer’s Fire Service Injury Research, Epidemiology and Evaluation Fellowship (FIRE Fellows) emphasized fire service safety culture. Fellows had opportunities to work with the Fire service Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS) survey data, fire service stakeholders and other non-fatal injury datasets extending work completed by the 2016 Fire Fellows. This 10-week fellowship was conducted in partnership with the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA), and was supported in part by FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) Fire Prevention and Safety grant program.
For more information on FIRST visit www.drexel.edu/dornsife/FIRST or email: FIRST@drexel.edu