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Our Projects

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) in the Fire and Rescue Service

As society takes necessary action toward becoming more inclusive, the fire and rescue service is being prompted to follow suit. In our commitment to first responders, the FIRST Center is also conducting important research and development related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the fire and rescue service.

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4 firefighters diverse

Policy: Research to Practice (r2p)

Policy is one of the strongest tools in the public health toolbox. When it comes to the fire and rescue service, policy research and development is lacking. Therefore, the FIRST Center works in collaboration with the fire and rescue service to develop model policies that can be modified for local implementation in departments across the country.

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Injury Data Evaluation & Analysis (IDEA)

The Injury Data Evaluation and Analysis (IDEA) project is a follow up study to the Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) project. The FIRST & IDEA projects were created to research and develop the minimum data elements necessary to conduct public health surveillance of non-fatal firefighter injuries in the United States.

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COVID-19 RAPID Mental Health Assessment

From 1980 to 2016, the number of calls in the US for fire declined 55%, while the number of calls for EMS increased 320%. On average, 64% of national fire department responses were for medical emergencies. For example, pre-COVID-19, the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) responded to 700 to 1,000 EMS calls per day (75% of their total call volume) with 200 paramedics and EMTs in service at any given time. Fire departments can run out of ambulances on any given day under normal conditions, and the FIRST Center's previous research showed that fire-based EMS responders were already concerned about their mental health. The coronavirus pandemic highlighted a system under incredible stress.

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Crying EMT

Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS)

The culture around safety in any organization is a strong predictor of injuries. Safety climate is the measurable aspect of organizational safety culture and has been used by other industries such as healthcare, construction, and manufacturing to gauge and improve safety performance.

In 2012, FEMA funded the Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at Drexel University to develop an industry-specific firefighter safety culture survey. 132 fire departments participated in the beta-test version of the survey, and a validated survey tool, the Firefighter Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS) survey, was developed. In 2016, Drexel University partnered with the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) and was awarded a FEMA FP&S grant to move research into practice through dissemination of the survey tool.

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What we offer

Workplace Violence (WPV) Prevention

While much of the work by the Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) has focused on the injury and safety outcomes of firefighters, our research focus has grown to be inclusive of fire-based Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In the United States, EMS is responsible for as much as 70 to 90 percent of the work done by fire departments. With calls increasing approximately 20% each year (NEMSIS, 2016), EMS responders are increasingly expected to do more with less. Previous research by the FIRST Center confirmed the issue of patient violence--we found that emergency medical responders were threatened or assaulted by patients, as well as family members and bystanders. Our Stress and Violence to fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER) Project and our EMS Run Survival Course work to address what first responders have been saying for decades: workplace violence (WPV) is a problem.


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Near-Miss Reporting

In occupational safety research, narrative text analysis has been combined with coded surveillance data to improve identification and understanding of injuries and their circumstances. Injury data give information about incidence and the direct cause of an injury, while near-miss data enable the identification of various hazards within an organization or industry. Further, near-miss data provide an opportunity for surveillance and risk reduction. 

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Data and Confidentiality

Our team has protocols that ensure the protection of information collected from participants and databases during a research project. These protocols include evaluation of our plan to protect human subjects by the Drexel Institutional Review Board (Drexel IRB) and any other required agency(s) (e.g. Department of Homeland Security Regulatory Compliance Office, etc.); required training for project staff regarding appropriate research procedures and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); data security; and legal review of research protocol and documentation. All project staff have successfully passed examinations on appropriate conduct of research and data security protocols. All research projects that capture sensitive data have been reviewed by Drexel IRB.