Long term health complaints following the Amsterdam Air Disaster in police officers and fire-fighters

A.C. Huizink, P. Slottje, A.B. Witteveen, J.A. Bijlsma, J.W. Twisk, N. Smidt, I. Bramsen, W. van Mechelen, H.M. van der Ploeg, L.M. Bouter, T. Smid

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Abstract

Background: On 4 October 1992, a cargo aircraft crashed into apartment buildings in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Fire-fighters and police officers assisted with the rescue work. Objectives: To examine the long term health complaints in rescue workers exposed to a disaster. Methods: A historical cohort study was performed among police officers (n = 834) and fire-fighters (n = 334) who performed at least one disaster related task and reference groups of their non-exposed colleagues (n = 634 and n =194, respectively). The main outcome measures included digestive, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, nervous system, airway, skin, post-traumatic stress, fatigue, and general mental health complaints; haematological and biochemical laboratory values; and urinalysis outcomes. Results: Police officers and fire-fighters who were professionally exposed to a disaster reported more physical and mental health complaints, compared to the reference groups. No clinically relevant statistically significant differences in laboratory outcomes were found. Conclusions: This study is the first to examine long term health complaints in a large sample of rescue workers exposed to a disaster in comparison to reference groups of non-exposed colleagues. Findings show that even in the long term, and in the absence of laboratory abnormalities, rescue workers report more health complaints.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-662
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Volume63
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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