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Fire apparatus driver operator experiences chest pain while exercising at fire station and dies three days later due to a pulmonary embolus - Maryland.

Smith DL; Hales T
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 F2009-14, 2009 Oct; :1-9
On January 9, 2008, a 36 year old Fire Apparatus Driver Operator (D/O) reported for duty at 0700 hours. Later that afternoon the D/O began walking on an exercise treadmill - a sanctioned activity that the Fire Department (FD) encourages while on-duty. While exercising, the D/O experienced chest discomfort. After being evaluated by a paramedic in the station, the D/O was transported and admitted to a local hospital. A number of medical tests were conducted focusing on a cardiac etiology including a cardiac catheterization which revealed no significant coronary artery disease. The D/O was discharged two days later (January 11) and instructed to report to the Fire Department's health care provider for a "return to work" evaluation. On January 12, the D/O collapsed at his residence. An advanced life support (ALS) unit responded to the scene and found the D/O in severe respiratory distress. Upon arrival in the hospital's emergency department, the D/O went into cardiac arrest. Despite advanced life support (ALS) provided by personnel in the emergency department, the D/O died. The autopsy listed "occlusive bilateral pulmonary thromboembolism" [pulmonary embolism (PE)] as the cause of death. Given the cause of death, it is unlikely the Fire Department (FD) could have prevented the death of this D/O. Therefore, the following recommendations address general health and safety issues facing this FD and the Fire Service in general. NIOSH offers the following recommendations to reduce the risk of on-the-job cardiovascular events among fire fighters at this and other fire departments across the country: 1. Provide mandatory annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters consistent with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. 2. Develop a comprehensive wellness/fitness program for fire fighters to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular (CVD) and improve cardiovascular capacity.
Region-3; Cardiac-function; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-function; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Fire-fighters; Medical-examinations; Medical-screening; Occupational-health-programs; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-education; Emergency-responders; Physical-fitness
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Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division