No, this job isn’t dangerous

For some reason, some people like to say that police officers and firefighters don’t have very dangerous jobs because the fatality rates aren’t the highest. Compared to the fishing and logging industries, or even the trucking and roofing industries, police officers and firefighters don’t even make the top 10 list according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I don’t think EMS even got its own category in the statistics.

But first of all, why do we even have to be caught up in the whole your-job-is-not-as-dangerous-as-mine argument anyway?

By the way, who is that asshole guest on Stossel?

It’s a little bit too simplistic to use a list like that to suggest that police officers and firefighters don’t work dangerous jobs. Bare numbers don’t reflect many subtle factors, and that is not to say that the list is wrong, but rather it’s encouraging uninformed people to read way more into it than it merits.

  • Many of these lists* only consider fatality rates. Not often are injury and accident rates mentioned. And even then, accidents have to be classified as preventable and non-preventable to have some meaning in this context. In any event, our backs are always sore, our joints are always ache. WE SUSTAIN SO MANY INJURIES – BIG AND SMALL, MAJOR AND NIGGLING, ACUTE AND CUMULATIVE. But it’s not visible to laypeople and people outside of emergency services, so as long as we continue to arrive quickly and clean up their stupid messes, who cares, right?
  • Of all the jobs listed, only police officers and firefighters go knowingly and willingly into dangerous situations for the sake of other people. Of all the jobs listed, only police officers have a natural enemy: criminals. (As for health care personnel, well, we only knowingly hang out with sick people all day long, cleaning up funny-smelling fluids.)
  • The level of training for police officers and firefighters is much more involved than many other jobs. It’s likely that there are fewer fatalities and injuries precisely because of increased safety awareness.
  • The cumulative mental stress is likely unrivaled but never taken into consideration.

How does that saying go – something about walking a mile in someone’s shoes…

Anyway, since we’re talking about the media and politicians, I wouldn’t really expect them to have any intelligent thoughts on this subject.

*The Bureau of Labor Statistics also has statistics on injuries and illnesses but do not mention any of the emergency services in them.

9 thoughts on “No, this job isn’t dangerous”

  1. Outside of HEMS, which is statistically one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, our biggest threat is while in a moving ambulance. MVCs kill more of us than anything else. Part of that is because too many of us think that the siren and blinky lights make us immune to the laws of physics, part of it is because we spend more time in our vehicles than do most people, and part of it is because too many other drivers have their heads up their asses and thus can’t see us.

    I just finished reading my sons copy of the current “Proceedings of the US Coast Guard”, which at it happens is about commercial fishing vessel safety. Despite OSHA regulations, it really is incredibly dangerous work. Apparently the seas and mother nature don’t care much about OSHA. Also, fishing vessel fatalities usually involve multiple deaths, which for the most part police, fire, and EMS fatalities don’t.

  2. I was surprised at some of the jobs which did and didn’t make the “most dangerous” list, but it really all comes down to how you slice and dice the data. For example, the list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics primarily accounts for fatalities or permanent injuries. But it doesn’t take into account the daily experiences people go through, or the other associated dangers. I have a high level of respect for all public servants who expose themselves to danger every day for our protection – EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement, and similar jobs don’t always get the respect or recognition they deserve. Thanks for your service. 🙂

  3. You’re right no one ever thinks of how dangerous our jobs as EMTs/medics are. They forget that we go in to volatile situations for the good of others, without any protection, weaponry, and often without working radios. Sometimes things go badly when there are no police available and the closest officer is 200 miles away. Unlike so many other professions we have no back up and just our partner to help us calm down a psychotic patient. This is why we learn safety first. Scene safety, being aware of surroundings and common sense is beaten into us from our first day of class. This is good but we need to do more.
    How about making it national law that we MUST wear helmets when in the roadway during an MVA? Too many of us get hurt or killed during these scenes, and too few trucks carry helmets or appropriate gear for MVA safety. Classes in self-defense should also become part of the EMT cirriculum so that we can better protect ourselves from patients in the back of the truck. Most importantly, we need to start working toghether and protect each others back more and get rid of the whole dog eat dog mentality.
    Yeah nurses are right we have an easy job that isn’t dangerous at all.

  4. 1. Every job has its assorted dangers. What’s more important than which job is more dangerous is what the industry does to appropriately mitigate said dangers. If your industry is making a “Top 10 Deadly Jobs” list, which is more likely, your job is more dangerous than others, or your industry sucks at properly mitigating said dangers?

    How about instead of beating our chest proclaiming how dangerous our job is, we celebrate the fact that, with proper education, training, and supervision, we’ve maintained effectiveness while reducing the chance of dieing. Additionally, how about we try to prevent the applicants with the hero complex from entering the field. Someone who dies doing something recklessly stupid isn’t a hero just because of the field they are in. They’re recklessly stupid, as well as dead now, and we should remember that instead of celebrating that.

    2. I also think we should also remember that these are careers that people volunteered to go into. No one should be surprised by the dangers of any of these fields anymore than people should be surprised to be making minimum wage as a fry cook at McDonalds. A lack of proper research into the risks of their chosen field does not make that person a hero, it makes that person an idiot.

  5. Hi There Medic,
    Cool Post, Me and my brother were argueing about which job is more dangerous. Being a Police officer or a conservation officer. My brothers facts that him being a conservation officer, he would be dealing with hunters who would usually be armed with a gun. But a Police officer deals a lot with actual criminals, hunters are usually just there for the game, not too be committing a crime and therefore are less likely to be in a stage of rage.

    Which do you think is more dangerous, cop or conservation officer?
    Catch you again soon!

  6. Firefighting is not dangerous , if the death rate is low then its not dangerous,what dont you get about that you drama queen firefighters

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