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Common Injuries Among First Responders

On Behalf of | First Responders

First responders have one of the most demanding jobs, as many of them (like police officers and firefighters) put their lives on the line every day they show up to work. Unfortunately, this work comes with a certain amount of risk, and first responders are susceptible to a variety of injuries and illnesses.

Common Injuries For Each Type of First Responder

While injuries are usually what first responders are called for, they can often be the ones to become injured on the job. From police officers to firefighters to paramedics, no type of first responder is immune to the dangers of their profession, and they all face different types of risks.

Police Officers

It is exceedingly well-known that police work is dangerous. From responding to violent situations to pursuing suspects on foot or in a vehicle, police officers are constantly exposed to the potential for injury. In fact, research indicates that it may be one of the most dangerous professions (if not the single most).

In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, non-fatal injuries in law enforcement occurred at a rate of 635 per 10,000 full-time officers. This is three times higher than the non-fatal injury rate of all other workers in the U.S. (213 per 10,000). The three most common injury events were:

  • Assaults or violence (35 percent)
  • Overexertion (15 percent)
  • Transportation accidents (14 percent)


Unlike police officers, firefighters usually respond to emergencies that involve hazardous materials or gasses. As a result, they are more likely to be exposed to dangerous chemicals, fumes, and extreme temperatures. The National Fire Protection Association reported that overexertion accidents accounted for 38 percent of injuries (which is understandable considering the immense weight of a firefighter’s gear). Falls followed behind at 18 percent of injuries, most likely due to the frequency of having to use ladders. Exposure to fire products, like smoke, was the third leading cause of injury at 17 percent.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that musculoskeletal injuries (typically strains or sprains to the neck and back) were the most common type faced by EMS workers and paramedics. Overuse injuries are especially prevalent in EMS due to the strenuous physical requirements of lifting or moving patients. Exposure to blood or respiratory secretions is also a significant factor resulting in injury or illness. A study also found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was increasingly more common among emergency medical personnel than other workers.

Finding Compensation for First Responder Injuries

After an injury in the line of duty, attempting to collect compensation can seem challenging, especially given that police officers and firefighters in Chicago are not covered by workers’ compensation. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides coverage for specified workers except:

“…any duly appointed member of a police department in any city whose population exceeds 500,000 according to the last Federal or State census, and except any member of a fire insurance patrol maintained by a board of underwriters in this State. A duly appointed member of a fire department in any city, the population of which exceeds 500,000 according to the last federal or State census…”

Police officers and firefighters instead may receive compensation through PEDA or PSEBA benefits. The two acts provide benefits to public safety employees who are injured or become ill in the line of duty, as well as families of officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

First Responder Injury Attorneys in Chicago, Illinois

It’s important that any first responder injured on the job seek legal help immediately to ensure they receive proper compensation for their injury or illness. Anesi Ozmon can help them understand all of their options and get a fair outcome. That way, no matter what type of first responder you are, if you become injured while performing your duties, you don’t have to face it alone.

If you are a first responder who was injured in the line of duty, contact us today at 312-997-5784 or fill out our form online.