Paramedics are frequently exposed to acute and/or chronic environmental, operational and patient-related factors that increase their risk of physical and psychological injury. However, there has been wide variation in reported paramedic injury rates. This systematic review aims to synthesise the evidence to examine the incidence and nature of occupational injury among paramedics.
This systematic review was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines (PROSPERO 2020: CRD42020164556). A systematic search of four electronic databases was conducted for the years 2004–2019. Peer-reviewed studies examining the incidence and proportions of paramedic occupational injury within civilian emergency medical services (EMS) were included. Injury types, mechanisms, contributing factors and incidence of injury were synthesised narratively.
Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria. The incidence of injury ranged from 29.7 to 345.6 injuries per 1000 workers per year. Sprains and strains were the most reported injury types, and the trunk and upper limbs were the main sites. Body motion was the most frequently reported mechanism of injury, accounting for 35%–55% of all injuries. Female paramedics had a proportionally higher rate of injury compared with male paramedics. Paramedics aged 25–34 years accounted for the majority of fatal (mean 34.0%) and non-fatal (mean 51.7%) injuries.
This review highlights the increased risk of occupational injury among paramedics and provides further insight into their overall injury profile.