Back Injuries in EMS
By Dennis Mitterer, MS, ASP, ARM, NREMT-P

You have worked on the streets for six years. Today, you’re busy thinking about the threeday vacation that will begin right after your current tour of duty. In three hours, you’ll be on the road to that vacation house and relaxation. Suddenly, the tones sound, bringing you back to reality with a call for a patient who is experiencing shortness of breath. This is a “routine call” that should be completed just when your shift ends. Arriving at the scene, you carry our medical bag, airway bag, monitor and oxygen into the house. The patient is on the second floor in the back bedroom. You evaluate the patient, treat her quickly, and prepare to carry her downstairs and into the waiting ambulance.

The patient is doing well as you prepare to lift her 130 lbs. into the rig. You and your partner bend over and grab the bars, just as you’ve done hundreds of times. As you raise the litter to place the patient in the ambulance, you suddenly feel a dull, burning sensation in your lower back, followed by a sudden, sharp pain that radiates down one leg. The pain causes you to abruptly stop the lift. In a trembling voice, you ask your partner to put the litter back on the ground. Upon releasing the bar, you moan in pain. As you attempt to straighten, you meet a wall of resistance and an urgent increasing pain. You are unable to stand. Routine call?

EZ LIFT Channel

Form Object

  • ONE in FOUR EMS/Fire Rescuers will have their careers ended within the first four years of service due to a back injury.
  • Lifting represents at least 25% of back injuries for emergency rescue personnel
  • The average back injury claim costs upwards of $25,000
  • Serious cases often soar about $85,000 in costs