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Driver/Operator suffers fatal heart attack while responding to structure fire - North Carolina.

VanGelder C; Bogucki S; Ahern J
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 F2010-27, 2012 Sep; :1-13
On January 31, 2009, a 58-year-old volunteer fire fighter [also the Driver/Operator (D/O) for this incident] responded to a structure fire. While driving the engine/tanker to the fire scene, the D/O developed severe chest pain. Upon arrival at the fire scene, the D/O was evaluated by a paramedic who emergently arranged ambulance transport. During transport an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) was diagnosed by electrocardiogram (ECG) and upon arrival at the local hospital's emergency department (ED), the D/O received emergent thrombolytic therapy. With no improvement in his clinical condition, the D/O was airlifted to a larger hospital for emergency cardiac catheterization. During the cardiac catheterization the D/O suffered a cardiac arrest and resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. The death certificate, completed by the treating cardiologist, listed "cardiogenic shock" as the cause of death with "acute myocardial infarction" as a contributing condition. No autopsy was performed. The NIOSH investigators concluded the physiologic demands associated with the emergency response to a structure fire probably triggered the D/O's heart attack and subsequent cardiac death. NIOSH offers the following recommendations to reduce the risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest among fire fighters at this and other fire departments across the country. 1) Provide mandatory pre-placement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters, consistent with the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. 2) Ensure fire fighters are cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of firefighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the various components of NFPA 1582. 3) Develop a job-related, comprehensive wellness/fitness program for fire fighters. 4) Educate fire fighters on the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. 5) Perform a pre-placement and annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members. Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear self-contained breathing apparatus as part of a Fire Department medical evaluation program.
Region-4; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Emergency-responders; Fire-fighters; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Work-environment; Work-practices; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Accidents; Traumatic-injuries; Cardiovascular-system; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Heart; Mortality-data; Cardiac-function
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
Identifying No.
FACE-F2010-27; B09262012
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
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