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Fire fighter suffers sudden cardiac death during structure fire response - Mississippi.

Baldwin-T; 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 F2010-29, 2010 Dec; :1-11
On January 14, 2010, a 55-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (FF) responded to a mobile home fire. The FF performed exterior overhaul (mop-up) operations for approximately 14 minutes, when he suddenly collapsed. Crew members provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as an ambulance was requested. The ambulance arrived, provided advanced life support, and transported the FF to the local hospital's emergency department (ED). CPR and advanced life support continued in the ED until the ED physician pronounced him dead. The death certificate listed "sudden cardiac death" as the cause of death. No autopsy was performed nor were any carboxyhemoglobin levels measured to test for carbon monoxide exposure. Given the FF's probable underlying coronary artery disease (CAD), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical exertion involved in responding to the call and performing exterior overhaul triggered his sudden cardiac death. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations, which may have prevented the FF's death. 1.) Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters. 2.) Ensure fire fighters are cleared for return to duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of fire fighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the various components of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582. 3.) Phase in a comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters. 4.) Perform a preplacement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation. 5.) Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as part of the Fire Department's medical evaluation program. 6.) Conduct annual respirator fit testing. 7.) Perform an autopsy on all on-duty fire fighter fatalities.
Region-4; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Medical-screening; Physical-stress
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division