Legacy of a Utah firefighter's death: Heat stroke fatality spurs call for reforms

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  • smac Oklahoma City, OK
    May 18, 2012 12:51 p.m.

    I am posting this response to the above comment on behalf of Thomas Hales, NIOSH/CDC, co-investigator of the report:

    Exertional heatstroke is extremely rare among wildland fire fighters.
    However, it is the tip of the iceberg.
    Over the past 12 years at this agency alone, there were 255 reported cases of non-fatal heat illness and an unknown number of unreported cases.
    Public health officials call this fire fighter's death a "sentinel health event."
    Sentinel health events are preventable diseases, disabilities, or deaths whose occurrence serves as a warning signal that preventive or therapeutic care may be inadequate.
    Decades ago the military realized the importance of primary prevention of exertional heatstroke.
    Under severe environmental conditions, the military requires hourly rest breaks (e.g., 1/2 hour of work followed by 1/2 hour of rest).
    Under severe environmental conditions, NIOSH and CDC recommend that the wildland fire service institute similar policies.

  • Ms Molli Bountiful, Utah
    May 18, 2012 8:33 a.m.

    I feel for the family of this firefighter, but 1 death in 65 years certainly doesn't seem to call for a reform!