Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE F2001-25, 2001 Dec; :1-12
On June 15, 2001, due to being placed on restricted duty status for health reasons, a 55-year-old male career Captain, was performing a Job Task evaluation (physical ability test) prior to being returned to full duty and reassignment back to his regular fire station. During the evaluation, he began having breathing difficulty; however, he continued with the evolutions. After completing the last evolution and exiting the drill tower, crew members removed his self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and bunker coat, assisted him to the ground, and administered oxygen. Moments later he became unresponsive, stopped breathing, and was pulseless. Approximately 43 minutes later, despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support (ALS) administered on the scene and at the hospital, the victim died. The death certificate listed "cardiac arrest" as the immediate cause of death. An autopsy, conducted by a private company, listed "cardiac arrhythmia" due to "myocardial ischemia" due to "coronary artery disease" as the cause of death. The following recommendations address some general health and safety issues. This list includes some preventive measures that have been recommended by other agencies to reduce the risk of on-the-job heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest among fire fighters. These selected recommendations have not been evaluated by NIOSH, but represent published research or consensus votes of technical committees of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or fire service labor/management groups. Recommendations: 1: Provide mandatory annual medical evaluations to ALL fire fighters consistent with NFPA 1582 to determine their medical ability to perform duties without presenting a significant risk to the safety and health of themselves or others. 2. Fire Fighters should be cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of fire fighting and the various components of NFPA 1582. 3. Incorporate exercise stress tests into the Fire Department's medical evaluation program. 4. Provide fire fighters with medical evaluations and clearance to wear SCBA. 5. Provide exercise equipment in all fire stations. 6. Ensure that all members participate in the FD's mandatory wellness/fitness program.