Hazardous materials responses in a mid-sized metropolitan area

Frank G. Walter, Gerry Bates, Elizabeth A. Criss, Tareg Bey, Daniel W. Spaite, Terence Valenzuela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the chemicals involved in fire department hazardous materials (hazmat) responses and analyze the concomitant emergency medical services' patient care needs. Methods. The setting was a mid-sized metropolitan area in the southwestern United States with a population base of 400,000 and an incorporated area of 165 square miles. The authors conducted a retrospective evaluation of all fire department hazmat reports, with associated emergency medical services patient encounter forms, and in-patient hospital records from January 1, 1992, through December 31, 1994. Results. The fire department hazardous materials control team responded to 468 hazmat incidents, involving 62 chemicals. The majority of incidents occurred on city streets, with a mean incident duration of 46 minutes. More than 70% of the responses involved flammable gases or liquids. A total of 32 incidents generated 85 patients, 53% of whom required transport for further evaluation and care. Most patients were exposed to airborne toxicants. Only two patients required hospital admission for carbon monoxide poisoning. Conclusion. Most hazmat incidents result in few exposed patients who require emergency medical services care. Most patients were exposed to airborne toxicants and very few required hospitalization. Routine data analysis such as this provides emergency response personnel with the opportunity to evaluate current emergency plans and identify areas where additional training may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-218
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Emergency medical services
  • Hazardous materials
  • Hazmat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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