On June 23, 2005, a 33-year-old career female Fire Fighter/Emergency Medical Technician (FF/EMT) reported to her duty station. During the daylight portion of her shift, she responded to two calls: a lightning strike on a house and a fire apparatus breakdown. After dinner, she retired to her bunkroom. Early the next morning, at 0205 hours, her crew (Rescue 121) and Brush 121 were dispatched to a medical call, but she did not respond. A crew member checked on her and found her unresponsive. After calling the brush crew back to the station, the crew member assessed her and radioed Dispatch, who dispatched a neighboring fire department (FD). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support (ALS) treatment were performed by crew members until paramedics from the neighboring FD arrived. From the FF/ EMT's clinical condition it was obvious she had expired much earlier in the night. The attending emergency department (ED) physician from the local hospital gave permission for the paramedic to pronounce the FF/EMT dead. The death certificate, completed by the Medical Examiner, and the autopsy, completed by the Forensic Pathologist, listed "oxycodone intoxication" as the cause of death with "mild thickening of the mitral valve" and "mild diffuse nephrosclerosis" as other conditions. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to address general safety and health issues although they probably would not have prevented this death: 1. Provide pre-placement and annual medical evaluations to ALL fire fighters to determine their medical ability to perform duties without presenting a significant risk to the safety and health of themselves or others; 2. Ensure fire fighters are cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of fire fighting.
Region-9; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Cardiac-function; Cardiovascular-function; Medical-examinations; Medical-screening; Physical-stress; Physical-fitness; Cardiovascular-system; Medical-monitoring; Drug-abuse; Substance-abuse; Women