Dr. Jeff Burgess, associate dean of research and professor at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has received a Fulbright Schuman Award to conduct international policy-related research on safety and health programs for fire service and emergency medical services in the United Kingdom and France.
[Photo: Dr. Jeff Burgess]
Firefighters and other emergency medical services (EMS) personnel are first responders for all emergencies, including fires, medical incidents, rescues, automobile crashes, natural disasters and terrorist acts. These activities create a host of occupational hazards that firefighters and
other EMS personnel must manage. Fire/EMS also constitutes a significant part of government expenditures, increasing the importance of safety and health programs as an area for global health and public policy research.
“Fire and EMS departments have marked variation in injury rates based on national and local policies, training and traditions. International partnerships and comparative studies provide the ideal environment to identify cost-effective safety and health interventions,” said Dr. Burgess.
The host institutions include the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Paris West suburb division of the Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente/Service Mobile d’Urgence et Reanimation (SAMU/SMUR-92) and the Service de Santé et de Secours Médical Haute-Corse du Service Départemental d’Incendie et de Secours (SDIS-2B) in France.
While on sabbatical, Dr. Burgess will evaluate the frequency and distribution of firefighter injuries and illnesses over the last 10 years in the UK and French partners, and assess how specific safety and health interventions that they have implemented have changed injury and illness patterns and costs.
Ultimately, Dr. Burgess will work toward the formation of a road map for future European and U.S. fire/EMS safety and health policy and program development.
“To my knowledge this will be the first research of its kind,” said Dr. Burgess.
Improving occupational health and safety is the focus of Dr. Burgess’s research, with a special focus on firefighters, other public safety personnel and miners. Areas of current and past research include: reduction of occupational exposures, illnesses and injuries; respiratory toxicology; cancer toxicology and environmental arsenic exposure. In addition to multiple research grants, Dr. Burgess is the principal investigator for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Mountain West Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center and Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research.