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Fire fighter/paramedic suffers sudden cardiac death after rescue training - California.

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 F2010-34, 2011 Apr; :1-15
On September 16, 2010, a 56-year-old male career Fire Fighter/Paramedic (FF/P) participated in rescue training that included classroom lectures, stretching exercises, and lifting/moving heavy concrete blocks. During the stretching exercises, the FF/P experienced chest discomfort. He and his paramedic partner administered and interpreted an electrocardiogram (EKG). The EKG revealed a slow heart rate but no changes suggestive of cardiac ischemia. The FF/P resumed the training, which, at that time, involved lifting and moving concrete blocks. This evolution lasted approximately 25 minutes after which crews were debriefed and dismissed for lunch. After walking to his vehicle, the FF/P collapsed. Despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support (ALS) at the scene, in the ambulance, and in the hospital's emergency department (ED), the FF/P died. The death certificate and the autopsy listed "severe coronary atherosclerosis" as the cause of death with "cardiomegaly" as a significant other condition. Given the FF/P's severe underlying coronary artery disease (CAD), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical exertion involved in performing the rescue training probably triggered his sudden cardiac death. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to address general safety and health issues. It is unclear if these recommended programs would have prevented the FF/P's death: 1. Report signs or symptoms consistent with a heart attack to authorities for prompt medical evaluation. 2. Provide mandatory annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters consistent with the current edition of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. 3. Consider reviewing the fire department's policy for conducting member exercise stress tests. 4. Phase in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters. 5. Perform an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members.
Region-9; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Medical-screening; Physical-stress; Training
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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 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division