An average of 100 U.S. firefighters die annually in the line of duty. 45% to 50% of these deaths are due to cardiac related events that are triggered by heat stress associated with fire suppression and the utilization of chemical protective suits. The heat stress impacting firefighters causes massive dehydration, substantially elevated core body temperatures, reductions in cardiac output and changes in the body’s electrolytes and chemical processes.
The detrimental effects of heat stress can be minimized through on-scene rehabilitation that focuses on core body temperature cooling, rehydration, medical monitoring, rest and calorie replacement.
Rehab Training Program
In an effort to assist the Fire Department, the Hanover Park Citizen’s Emergency Response Team (CERT) agreed to begin providing on-scene firefighter rehabilitation. CERT members underwent an intensive 24-hour University of Illinois Fire Service Institute training program focused on:
The physical and physiological stress of firefighting
Working with the Fire Service
Techniques for implementing effective on-scene rehabilitation
Firefighter protective equipment
Experiencing heat stress from the firefighters perspective
CERT members who completed the training will staff a Fire Department Rehab Vehicle and respond to major incidents to assist the department. CERT members completing the training will also have a better understanding of the fire ground, how to interact with firefighters, and practical methods of rehabilitation.