New York State Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance Project (HSEES)

Responder Injuries in New York (1993-2000)


During the past eight years, HSEES has received reports of 246 injured responders. There were probably many more that we did not learn about. More than half the injured responders (54%) wore firefighter turnout gear and another 21% wore NO personal protective equipment (PPE). Our data indicate that many of these injuries may have been avoided with proper training and appropriate protective gear.

The goal of the HSEES project is to share lessons learned to reduce injuries and death from exposure to hazardous substances. Responders should review the lessons learned from these hazardous substances events and use this information to reduce future injuries.


Injuries most frequently reported for responders wearing firefighter turnout gear
Respiratory irritation 45%
Headache 43%
Dizziness and other CNS effects 28%
Heat stress 27%
Chemicals most frequently associated with events with responder injuries
Ammonia 24%
Sulfuric acid 24%
Chlorine 22%
Hydrochloric acid 15%
Tetrachloroethene (perc) 15%
Factors contributing to a release in events with responder injuries
Operator error 28%
Equipment failure 25%
Fire 21%
All other causes 26%
Number of events: 81
LESSONS LEARNED
  • 21% of injured responders wore no PPE and 54% of injured responders wore firefighter turn out gear.
LESSON: WEAR APPROPRIATE PPE. FIREFIGHTER TURNOUT GEAR IS FIRE RESISTANT
BUT MAY NOT PROVIDE PROTECTION FROM CHEMICALS.

  • The most frequent responder injury was respiratory irritation.
LESSON: WEAR APPROPRIATE RESPIRATORY PROTECTION.

  • Sulfuric acid, ammonia and chlorine caused most responder injuries.
LESSON: KNOW YOUR CHEMICALS AND THEIR HEALTH EFFECTS.

REMEMBER:
KNOW YOUR SCENE.
DO NOT RUSH IN UNTIL YOU DO.

For more information: (518) 402-7810 or 800-458-1158