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Fire fighter suffers heart attack while fighting grass fire and dies 2 days later - 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 F2011-01, 2011 Mar; :1-14
On October 3, 2010, a 52-year-old male career Fire Fighter (FF) responded to five emergency calls. Over the previous 2 days, he had responded to 15 other calls. At the last call, a grass fire, the FF pulled 350 feet of 1½-inch hoseline and began fire suppression activities for about an hour before taking a break. After about a 10-minute break, the FF returned to fire suppression activities. Approximately 30-40 minutes later, complaining of back pain, the FF returned to his engine. After asking the driver/operator to request a medic unit, the FF collapsed. Despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation and advanced life support at the scene, in the ambulance, and in the hospital, the FF died 2 days later. The death certificate listed "acute myocardial infarction with hemorrhagic stroke" as the cause of death. No autopsy was performed. Given the FF's severe underlying coronary artery disease (CAD), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of responding to 20 calls while working 58 straight hours and performing fire suppression activities at the grass fire triggered a heart attack that led to his death. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to address general safety and health issues. Had some of these recommended programs been implemented, specifically incorporating exercise stress tests into the Fire Department's medical evaluation program, it is possible the FF's death could have been prevented. 1. Provide annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters. 2. Incorporate exercise stress tests following standard medical guidelines into a Fire Department medical evaluation program. 3. Perform an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members. 4. Ensure that fire fighters wear appropriate protective clothing for the specific type of incident. 5. Consider incident scene rehabilitation (rehab) during certain fire operations. 6. Perform an autopsy on all on-duty fire fighter fatalities.
Region-9; Fire-fighting; Fire-fighters; Accident-prevention; Accident-analysis; Accidents; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Cardiac-function; Medical-examinations; Medical-screening; Emergency-responders
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
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Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
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