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  • Seoul Supports Firefighters Exposed to Harmful Environments with Medical Expenses

  • Welfare, Health & Security News SMG 3227

    The Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters has supported medical expenses to 571 firefighters who were exposed to harmful environments amid emergency and rescue activities in disaster scenes during the past two years (Jan. 2018 – May 2020).

    The Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters identified a total of 4,454 cases where 10,712 firefighters were exposed to harmful environments after the establishment of the “Onsite Civil Affairs Team,” which takes the responsibility for detecting and compensating for damages and losses that occur during rescue and first aid activities, in 2018.

    Representative are cases where they had to transfer patients of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, cholera and measles, or symptomatic individuals of COVID-19, as well as to collect leaked toxic substances, such as formalin. There were also incidents of dog bites and getting pricked by needles while transferring patients.

    ※ Cases of Exposure to Toxic Substances and Infectious Diseases for the Last Two Years (2018 – May 2020)

    Category Exposed Cases Exposed Individuals Handling Completed Handling Ongoing Supported Cases
    (Medical Expenses, etc.)
    Supported Individuals
    (Medical Expenses, etc.)
    Total 4,454 10,712 2,575 1,879 208 571
    As of May 30, 2020 4,225 10,108 2,357 1,868 115 365
    2019 123 344 112 11 55 144
    2018 106 260 106 38 62

    Source: Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disasters Headquarters

    This year, in particular, there were many more cases in which firefighters could not help but be exposed to harmful environments as many suspected COVID-19 patients were transferred by 119 emergency services. The number of cases was 4,225 (10,108 firefighters) by the end of May, which is nearly 40 times as many as the number for 2018 (106 cases) and 2019 (123 cases).

    The Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters has completed the handling of 2,575 cases among all received complaints and there are still 1,879 cases to be done. 571 firefighters (208 cases) who need medical treatment or self-quarantine have been provided medical and meal expenses.

    Additionally, systematic health management was provided to firefighters who had come into contact with suspected COVID-19 cases or toxic substances. Their personal medical history was checked and they were quarantined in infection control surveillance centers.