Causes of Death for Law Enforcement Officers in the Line of Duty: A One Health Approach to Trauma Mortality Survivability Assessment
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The development of a comprehensive epidemiological methodology for trauma assessment and mortality classification for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, using a ‘One Health’ interdisciplinary approach provides the foundation for an occupational risk assessment. The “One Health” concept leverages relationships between disciplines by increasing communication and collaboration to tackle complex health issues affecting humans and animals considering environmental in which they occur. The novel application of One Health concepts of interdisciplinary leveraging towards the prevention of traumatic mortality in both human and canine law enforcement populations identifies trends in law enforcement mortality. The central hypothesis that some law enforcement officer line of duty deaths are from injuries that are clinically, potentially survivable. Describing patterns of fatal injuries and identifying risk to develop a framework may reduce the severity and occurrence of fatal injuries in the line of duty. Eighty-four traumatic fatalities sustained by Texas DPS Highway Patrol Officers in the line of duty were reviewed using trauma injury severity scoring to determine potentially survivable injuries. Injuries resulting in twenty-five potentially survivable deaths were evaluated with consideration to established Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) interventions, such as tourniquets and needle decompression, for their possible impact on survivability for injuries sustained in the line of duty. Truncal hemorrhage was noted to be the most common cause of death with opportunity for future mitigation. Lastly, health hazards impacting officer deaths were evaluated focusing on environmental and operational risk factors that have the potential to influence survivability. Opportunities for risk mitigation relating to automobile accidents could improve survivability and reduce line of duty deaths. These studies contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of fatal injuries sustained in the line of duty. A long-term goal of this study is to develop an improved public safety morbidity and mortality database in order to prioritize mitigation efforts and recommend risk reduction strategies aiming to reduce the severity and occurrence of injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Cuevas, Carolyn Elizabeth (2017). Causes of Death for Law Enforcement Officers in the Line of Duty: A One Health Approach to Trauma Mortality Survivability Assessment. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from