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Study highlights number of firefighters injured annually

Although a recent report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that nearly 70,000 firefighters across the nation were injured in the line of duty in 2012, Pahrump Valley Fire Rescue Services Chief Scott Lewis said injuries in his department are typically few and far between.

In the last decade, from 2003 until now, Lewis said only 27 firefighters have been injured on the job. Of those injuries, Lewis said none required hospitalization or anything more than a quick trip to the local emergency room for a precautionary exam.

“We do everything in our power to make sure injuries don’t happen,” he said.

According to the NFPA, an estimated 31,490 injuries, or 45.4 percent of all injuries sustained by firefighters on the job, reportedly occurred during fire operations. Of those injuries, 55.2 percent were reported as strains, sprains or muscle pain.

Lewis said those results are similar to what PVFRS has seen here in Pahrump with heat exhaustion, over exertion and strains being the most common type of injury they see.

There have also been other injuries related to ammunition exploding inside burning structures or vehicles which nearly struck firefighters at certain scenes, or instances where firefighters have been hit by something falling, which has left them with bruises or cuts.

Although heat exhaustion, over-exertion and strains are considered the most common type of injuries firefighters in Pahrump have suffered, Lewis said in 2012 there were only two reported incidents where firefighters were injured at a scene. And as of Tuesday morning there had only been one injury reported so far this year.

“Most of our injuries actually don’t come from the fire side, they happen on the EMS side,” the fire chief said.

The number of those injuries, however, has reportedly declined in the last year since the implementation of three power gurneys and four stair chairs, which were purchased through a grant awarded to the town.

The power gurneys allow paramedics to raise and lower the gurney with the touch of a button, and automatically move the legs of the mobile bed up or down as they put a patient into the back of their ambulance or go to take them out.

PVFRS Firefighter Paramedic Matthew Smith said, “It’s one of the better pieces of equipment they’ve given us for everyday use.”

“It’s been huge,” Firefighter Intermediate Rodd Fernandes added.

The fire chief said he and several other members of the PVFRS crew were scheduled to conduct a demonstration of the power gurneys Tuesday night at the Town Board meeting now that the grant money had been spent, to show how the funds were used to make the local paramedics’ jobs easier.

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