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 R Twisk, N Smidt, I Bramsen, W van Mechelen, H M van der Ploeg, L M Bouter, T Smid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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)657-62
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

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