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Fire fighter suffers sudden cardiac death while responding to residential structure fire - Michigan.

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 F2013-20, 2013 Dec; :1-12
On February 26, 2013, a 22-year-old male volunteer fire fighter ("FF") responded to his fire station for a structure fire call. He and a crew member loaded coolers of water bottles into his pickup truck and responded toward the scene; the crew member was driving. A few blocks from the fire station, the FF began to have difficulty breathing and became unresponsive. Despite cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support on the scene, in transport, and at the hospital, the FF died. The death certificate and the autopsy completed by the county medical examiner listed "sudden cardiac event (probable cardiac arrhythmia) of unknown etiology" as the cause of death. The FF's autopsy showed an enlarged heart with left ventricular hypertrophy, but no "characteristic gross or histologic features of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy." Given the FF's previously undiagnosed heart disease, NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical exertion of loading the coolers into his truck and/or the stress of responding to the structure fire may have triggered an arrhythmia that resulted in his sudden cardiac death. The following recommendations would not have prevented the FF's death. Nonetheless, NIOSH investigators offer these recommendations to address general safety and health. Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters in accordance with NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. Ensure that 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 NFPA 1582. Phase in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters. Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear SCBA as part of the Fire Department's medical evaluation program.
Region-5; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Mortality-data; Cardiac-function; Cardiovascular-system; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Medical-examinations; Autopsies; Heart; Preemployment-examinations; Medical-monitoring; Preventive-medicine; Physical-capacity; Physical-stress; Job-analysis; Physical-fitness
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division