Buffalo researchers to examine emergency response under pressure

Published 10 January 2007

University scientists to see if firemen and EMTs perform better or worse when they know their families are in danger; discriminating 2006 snowstorm provides a useful control group

Are first responders human beings? That is the underlying question of a new research study at the University of Buffalo (UB) that seeks to discover whether firemen and EMTs perform worse when they are worried about their own safety or that of their families. “Our first goal is to study the effectiveness of first responders in the context of emotional pressures,” said professor H.R. Rao. To do so, Rao and his colleagues are taking a closer look at an October 2006 snowstorm in western New York that caused widespread problems in some areas but none at all in others close by — thereby creating a useful control group of emergency responders unconcerned about their families. “This natural disaster provided a unique time-limited opportunity to examine and understand the differences between the different groups of first responders,” said Rao.

The research is being funded by a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

-read more in Katherine Torres’s Occupational Hazards report