On March 13, 2004, a 38-year-old male volunteer probationary Fire Fighter (FF) suddenly collapsed while performing a maze drill. Teammates extricated the FF from the maze, removed his self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), and found him in cardiac arrest. They began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while an ambulance was summoned. Despite CPR and advanced life support (ALS) provided by teammates, police, and ambulance personnel, the FF died. The death certificate and the autopsy, completed by the Chief Medical Examiner, listed "sudden death associated with rheumatic heart disease" as the cause of death. NIOSH investigators concluded the physical stress of fire suppression training and his underlying valvular heart disease contributed to this fire fighter's sudden cardiac death. The following recommendations are preventive measures recommended by other fire service groups to reduce the risk of on-the-job heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest among fire fighters. 1. Ensure that fire fighters are cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of fire fighting. 2. Perform a pre-placement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for fire fighters to ensure they are physically capable of performing the essential job tasks of structural fire fighting. 3. Phase in a mandatory wellness/fitness program for fire fighters to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular capacity. 4. Conduct exercise stress tests (EST) for fire fighters with two or more risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD).
Region-1; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Heart; Physical-stress; Physical-fitness; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Medical-screening; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-function; Cardiovascular-system; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Medical-examinations; Medical-monitoring; Medical-screening