NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Captain suffers fatal heart attack during fire control training - North Carolina.

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 F2013-25, 2014 May; :1-15
On October 14, 2013, a 48-year-old male career fire department Captain was an instructor with the fire department's (FD) 6-month fire fighter recruit program. After practice drills in the morning wearing station uniforms and six live fire drills wearing full turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), the Captain suggested taking a break. He and a co-instructor doffed their turnout coat and SCBA and walked across the training ground to obtain water. After drinking some water, they proceeded into the training building. The Captain entered the SCBA refill room to locate spare cylinders for the next drills. As the co-instructor entered the room, the Captain vomited and complained of chest pain. The co-instructor notified the other training captain as the Captain asked the co-instructor to call an ambulance. Oxygen equipment was retrieved, and oxygen was administered to the Captain as his vital signs were taken. The ambulance arrived a few minutes later just as the Captain became unresponsive. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was begun along with advanced life support (ALS) including 10 defibrillation attempts without a change in the Captain's clinical condition. After 43 minutes of resuscitation efforts at the scene, the paramedics notified medical control of the incident, and the attending physician pronounced the Captain dead at 1632 hours. The death certificate completed by the county medical examiner and the autopsy report completed by the state medical examiner listed "coronary artery thrombus" as the cause of death. The autopsy report also listed "chronic ischemic heart disease" as a contributing factor. Given the Captain's previously unidentified coronary artery disease (CAD), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of the training probably triggered a coronary artery plaque rupture. The rupture likely caused a blood clot that occluded his coronary artery, causing a fatal heart attack. It is unlikely that the following recommendations would have prevented the Captain's death; however, NIOSH makes the recommendations to address general safety and health issues and to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Region-4; Emergency-responders; Fire-fighters; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-function; Cardiac-function; Heart; Emergency-treatment; Emergency-care; Emergency-response; Cardiopulmonary-function; Life-support-systems; Paramedical-services; Physical-stress; Autopsies; Medical-examinations; Fire-fighting-equipment; Self-contained-breathing-apparatus; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Training; Safety-education
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2013-25; M062014
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