Year of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Athletic Training (MAT)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Athletic Training Program Option)

Department or School/College

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Valerie Moody

Commitee Members

Dr. Charles Palmer, Dr. Joseph Domitrovich

Keywords

fireline, injury, wildland firefighter, physical training, wildfire

Publisher

University of Montana

Abstract

Objective: To develop a better understanding of the types of injuries Wildland Firefighters (WLFFs) sustain during Physical Training (PT) and while out on the fire line, and if there are any discernible trends or patterns that can be addressed through the implementation of a more focused PT program.

Methods: This study is a web-based cross-sectional questionnaire titled Injury Surveillance of Wildland Firefighters (ISWLFF). We utilized a snowball sampling technique to reach seasonal and fulltime WLFFs of the US Forest Service. 360 WLFFs responded to the questionnaire, but were not required to answer every question. While 112 of the respondents did not report an injury in the past 5 years, 248 WLFFs did. Of the 248 participants whose injury data was utilized, there were 218 males, 29 females and 1 identified as other. Quantitative data from the questionnaire was analyzed using Microsoft Excel to determine WLFFs demographics, types of injuries sustained and the potential influence environmental factors have on injuries sustained. Thematic analysis was conducted on open-ended questions where WLFFs could offer further explanation to a closed ended question.

Results: Most WLFFs (n=248) sustained at least one injury in the past 5 fire seasons with 91% (n=226) of those injuries occurring on the fireline on rocky mountainside terrain. Nearly half (n=209) of the injuries reported were sprains and strains occurring to the lower back, knee and ankle. 76% of injuries reported by WLFFs (n=343/453) directly impacted their ability to continue with normal duty.

Conclusions: Most of the injuries reported by WLFFs were to the lower extremity and occurred while working on the fireline. Therefore, a more targeted, job-specific injury prevention program that focuses on the lower extremity should be considered.

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© Copyright 2017 Taylor Purchio