Every year on the Fourth of July, the United States of America comes together to celebrate the day that our beautiful country declared independence. While the rest of the country lets loose and commemorates Independence Day, first responders nationwide prepare to make sure that American citizens can do so safely. Let’s take a look at how EMTs, firefighters, and hospital workers prepare for the day when more people are likely to visit the emergency room than any other.
Regular summertime fun like boating, grilling, and camping are staples of the holiday, but with nearly all 330 million Americans participating in these activities simultaneously, the likelihood of accidents goes up. July 4 and 5 see an average of 45,000 people in emergency rooms across the country, meaning that EMT staff are working overtime to provide emergency medical assistance and to transport patients to the hospital.
Preparation for this year’s Fourth of July celebration is different from previous Independence Day observances. There is anticipation that Americans will heed the advice of President Joe Biden when he encouraged citizens to use the holiday to also commemorate the return to relative normalcy after the coronavirus pandemic. While celebrating the reopening of America is certainly in order, there is a chance that an increase in exciting activities could lead to a higher possibility for accidents.
One way that paramedics and other first responders prepare for the increase of activity is by knowing what kind of accidents are most likely to occur. This is especially true for law enforcement officers. A great example of this is intoxicated driving. What was probably a fun party or get-together could turn deadly if someone makes the choice to drive under the influence of alcohol. Independence Day is only rivaled by New Year’s when it comes to car accidents.
About 38% of the total people who passed away on July Fourth and a fifth died due to car crashes where the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Knowing this, preventive measures can be taken, including media campaigns and an increase of police officers patrolling the roads to stop drunk drivers before the accidents happen.
July is one of the hottest national holidays and is known for being celebrated with beautiful fireworks — a combination that is not necessarily ideal when it comes to fire safety. 2020 was notably the second-worst year for wildfires in America in about 60 years, with nearly 10.1 million acres being burned. 2021 has already been uniquely warm and dry, indicating an increased danger for fire hazards. With July Fourth falling in the middle of fire season, firefighters across the nation are prepared for a rise in structure fires as well as wildland fires caused by fireworks and campfires.
In fact, about 19% of fatal fires happen because of careless behavior, and Independence Day is no exception. Because of the high rate of accidental fires in general, it is best to leave the handling of large fireworks to the professionals. In preparation, fire stations and wildland fire teams hire additional staff and deploy extra volunteers to ensure a safe holiday weekend.
Summer 2021 has been dubbed “the summer of freedom.” While the Fourth of July is the perfect time to celebrate this, it is important to keep in mind the first responders risking their lives to protect American citizens.