Paramedic and emergency medical technician reflections on the ongoing impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

PubMed ID



Cambridge University Press


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Smith, E. C., & Burkle, F. M., Jr. (2019). Paramedic and emergency medical technician reflections on the ongoing impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 34(1), 56-61. Available here


Introduction In the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City (New York USA), otherwise known as 9/11, first responders began experiencing a range of health and psychosocial impacts. Publications documenting these largely focus on firefighters. This research explores paramedic and emergency medical technician (EMT) reflections on the long-term impact of responding to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.Methods Qualitative methods were used to conduct interviews with 54 paramedics and EMTs on the 15-year anniversary of 9/11.Results Research participants reported a range of long-term psychosocial issues including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, insomnia, relationship breakdowns and impact on family support systems, and addictive and risk-taking behaviors. Ongoing physical health issues included respiratory disorders, eye problems, and cancers.Discussion These findings will go some way to filling the current gap in the 9/11 evidence-base regarding the understanding of the long-term impact on paramedics and EMTs. The testimony of this qualitative research is to ensure that an important voice is not lost, and that the deeply personal and richly descriptive experiences of the 9/11 paramedics and EMTs are not forgotten. SmithEC, BurkleFMJr. © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2019.



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Research Themes


Priority Areas

Safety and quality in health care