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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2013 Apr-Jun;17(2):155-61. doi: 10.3109/10903127.2012.722179. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

Epidemiology of low-level bridge jumping in Pittsburgh: a 10-year study.

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Emergency Medical Services, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7594, USA. brice@med.unc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Outcomes of patients who fall from bridges lower than 160 feet above water have been poorly characterized. Pittsburgh offers a unique setting in which to study these patients as the city has 41 major bridges, only four of which are above 70 feet.

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined patients who fell or jumped from Pittsburgh bridges over a 10-year period for their characteristics, injury patterns, and the effects of prehospital care on outcomes.

METHODS:

We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients who jumped or fell from bridges in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, over a 10-year period. Subjects were identified through manual searches of three data repositories: City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Pittsburgh River Rescue, and Allegheny County Medical Examiner records. Data abstracted included patient name, age, gender, date of birth, and address; incident date, time, location, and river conditions; prehospital interventions; emergency department intervention; hospital disposition; evidence of prior or subsequent psychiatric admission; toxicology results or evidence of substance involvement; and causes of death.

RESULTS:

Seventy-four subjects were identified. Most were male (80%) young adults (mean age 34.3 years) who lived near the bridges from which they jumped or fell. Mortality from bridges less than 50 feet high was 18%; mortality from bridges 180 feet high was 75%. All patients who required prehospital interventions beyond warming or intravenous (IV) fluids died. Injury patterns were similar to those described for high-bridge patients, concentrated in the trunk or skull, but low-bridge injuries were milder and less common. Cause of death was predominantly drowning (84%). More than a third (47.3%) of the patients had previous psychiatric histories, but evidence of a previous attempt to jump was uncommon (5.4%).

CONCLUSIONS:

People who jump from low- to medium-rise bridges may suffer injuries, but most often die from drowning. EMS interventions beyond water rescue are typically not helpful, emphasizing the importance of prevention and a water rescue plan.

PMID:
23148589
DOI:
10.3109/10903127.2012.722179
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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