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The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

System will track firefighter injuries

Jennifer Taylor, an assistant professor in Drexel University’s School of Public Health, has developed a data system that tracks nonfatal firefighter injuries with help from a three-year, $1 million grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

This project is unique because, “From Miami to Philadelphia, nothing exists in terms of tracking nonfatal injuries,” Taylor said. She added that the system is a matter of “linking together different data sources and serves as a liaison between incidents and solutions.”

Information regarding nonfatal injuries is critical because it offers insight as to how firefighter safety can be improved. Even something as simple as buckling seat belts when responding to a call could prevent many firefighter injuries. This kind of research could make an enormous difference for firefighters everywhere. Taylor said this project could one day affect people on a larger scale by tracking and preventing injuries in other, more dangerous fields like construction.

This data system is not just a project chosen at random. The Fire Service compiles a list of different projects it would like to see accomplished, also known as its “research agenda.” Because Taylor is equipped with the skills and techniques necessary to pursue such a project, this seemed like a great fit.

“It’s not difficult, [and] they asked for it to be developed,” Taylor said. “It’s been great. … The Fire Service is an extraordinary group of workers [who are] motivated to solve problems.”

Although pursuing this project may seem relevant only to firefighters, Taylor suggested that students pay close attention when learning research methods because even though “you might not think having these skills [is important], it is if you are on the lookout for people who need them.” Also, she said it’s “a wonderful way for [students] to find a meaningful job.”

In addition to that, Taylor offered a bit of advice to firefighters everywhere: “Wear your SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) overhaul” during the fire investigation. Although it gets hot, there are other injury-causing environmental dangers that could easily be preventable if firefighters simply follow this advice.

The project is a work in progress and will hopefully make a huge difference in the long run and translate to other career fields that could make good use of such data.