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Open AccessArticle

Examination of Strenuous Activity Preceding Cardiac Death during Firefighting Duties

Department of Health and Human Physiological Sciences, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Safety 2019, 5(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/safety5030050
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 2 August 2019 / Accepted: 7 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fire Safety 2019)
Sudden cardiac death accounts for approximately 45% of duty-related fatalities among United States firefighters. Strenuous physical exertion is recognized as a trigger of sudden cardiac events. This study describes the duration of strenuous physical exertion on-scene preceding a fatal cardiac event by situation encountered during firefighting duties. Data provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program for duty-related firefighter fatalities over a 9-year period were analyzed. Among the 235 fatalities investigated, 45% had a cause of death that was cardiac in origin. Time (mean ± SD) spent on-scene in strenuous work was 30 ± 26 min, 14 ± 15 min, and 47 ± 52 min for fire, non-fire emergency, and training situations, respectively. Across all emergency operations and training, 31% of fatalities occurred among firefighters who performed ≤10 min of strenuous work, whereas 13% of fatalities occurred among those who performed >60 min. Study findings indicate that there is considerable variability in the duration of strenuous work preceding fatal cardiac events during firefighting duties. Notably, a high percentage of fatal cardiac events occurred after a relatively brief period of strenuous work, suggesting that the performance of any strenuous work, even that of short duration, may be sufficient to provoke a cardiac event in a firefighter with underlying cardiac disease. View Full-Text
Keywords: firefighting; sudden cardiac event; strenuous work firefighting; sudden cardiac event; strenuous work
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Haller, J.M.; Smith, D.L. Examination of Strenuous Activity Preceding Cardiac Death during Firefighting Duties. Safety 2019, 5, 50.

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