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Wildland fire fighter suffers sudden cardiac death during campfire patrol - New Mexico.

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 F2013-22, 2014 Mar; :1-16
On May 5, 2013, a 26-year-old male seasonal wildland fire fighter (FF), along with his two Engine crewmembers, conducted campfire patrol and terrain familiarization. After hiking with a wildland fire fighting pack for about 3 miles in hilly terrain over approximately 2½-hours at 8000 feet, he reported feeling dizzy and suddenly collapsed. Initial assessment by crewmembers revealed labored breathing with a weak pulse. Shortly after crewmembers removed his pack, the FF became unresponsive with no pulse or respirations. One crewmember began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as the other crewmember climbed a short distance to notify Dispatch by portable radio. Approximately 26 minutes later, the Lifeflight helicopter landed and initiated advanced life support (ALS). After 40 minutes of ALS, with no change in his clinical status, Medical Control advised the paramedics to cease resuscitation efforts and the FF was pronounced dead. The autopsy report, completed by the State Medical Investigator, listed the cause of death as "dilated cardiomyopathy." NIOSH investigators conclude that the FF's sudden cardiac death was due to his previously undiagnosed dilated cardiomyopathy. His death may have been precipitated by the moderate physical exertion associated with hiking in hilly terrain at elevation. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to improve Agency safety and health among wildland fire fighters, however none of these recommendations would have prevented this FF's death. Implementing these recommendations will demonstrate a continuing commitment to improve the safety culture of the wildland fire service. 1. Modify the Health Screening Questionnaire (HSQ) to include all cardiovascular risk factors identified by the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC). 2. Consider providing pre-placement and periodic medical evaluations to ALL fire fighters. The content of the evaluations should be consistent with NFPA 1582 or equivalent to determine their medical ability to perform duties without presenting a significant risk to the safety and health of themselves or others.
Region-6; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Cardiac-function; Cardiovascular-system; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Medical-examinations; Heart; Medical-monitoring; Physical-stress; Physical-fitness; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-function; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Medical-screening; Preemployment-examinations
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2013-22; M032014
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 8, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division