At approximately 5 o'clock on a cold, rainy morning, a ladder company with an officer and three firefighters was dispatched to a motor vehicle crash on a nearby highway. When they arrived at the scene about five minutes later, they found a car resting on its side on the median, sticking out into both the east- and westbound high-speed lanes.
Several minutes later, a pickup truck traveling eastbound lost control on the slick road and slammed into the disabled car, turning onto its passenger side and coming to rest in the high-speed lane next to the original crash site. The company officer left the median to check on the driver of the truck and was standing behind the vehicle when a third car lost control and slammed into the pickup.
The force of the collision pushed the pickup truck into the officer, tossing him backwards several yards onto the median. The officer, who was wearing his structural firefighting gear, including his helmet, sustained multiple fractures, abrasions, and contusions, and was treated at the scene before he was transported to the nearest Level 1 trauma facility.
He was just one of 65,880 firefighters injured in the line of duty last year. Of these injuries, 29,760, or 45.2 percent, occurred during fire ground operations. Another 11,800 occurred during other on-duty activities; 4,015 occurred while responding to, or returning from an incident; 7,770 occurred during training; and 12,535 occurred at non-fire emergencies.
The major types of injuries received during fire ground operations were strains, sprains, muscular pain, wounds, cuts, bleeding, bruising, burns, and smoke or gas inhalation. The leading causes of fire ground injuries were overexertion, strain, falls, slips, and jumps. Strains, sprains, and muscular pain accounted for more than half of all non-fire ground injuries.
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