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Heat Stress

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amqfX_UpLuU]

As the summer months are upon us the temperature is beginning the sky-rocket. If we are not prepared this can have an adverse affect on our operations and our overall health.

For our normal duty shifts our preparation is actually quite simple. Stay hydrated, ensure proper rehab, and rotate crews effectively. For Incident Commanders ensuring that adequate manpower (engines, ladders, ambulances, etc.) are available.

However if you are going to be participating in an intensive training class (HTR, recruit school, live burns) during these summer months some extra preparation is necessary. You have to expose yourself to this heat stress under physical activity several weeks prior to the training program in order to acclimate your self to the stress of operating in high temperatures.

The Army offers a guide to all of their soldiers you can see it here: http://www.tradoc.army.mil/surgeon/Pdf/HeatAcclimatizationGuide1.pdf

In addition to that we need to ensure that as a part of our regular physical fitness regimen we are including our PPE. Lets face it running, and lifting are great but we perform in the elements and in PPE/SCBA. This will truly tell us how ready we are for our job on the fireground. When we get a fire is not the time to figure out we are not ready.

Like Chris Huston over at www.engineco22.net says “We can not control how many fires we run, but we can control how ready we are for the ones we do run”

So in short, prehab, workout, rehab, train and be ready! The summer months are challenging for firefighters, yet the calls keep coming in. It is our JOB to be ready to meet the needs of every incident, every citizen, and our fellow firemen.

Another thing to be aware of though is the danger level associated with operating in the heat. Even though we have to be ready and we can not say “no it is to hot” we should have the ability to adjust our response based on the dangers of heat. It gets hot every where but especially here in the South humidity is a large concern. Enough humidity can make a 90 degree day feel like 100 and that presents its own unique problems.

This is just one of the many “charts” or guides that you can use to determine how you need to limit your outdoor exertion. Like I said we still have to work even in the danger environments but knowing the danger ahead of time can assist use in calling the appropriate resources, and ramping up our rehab needs. It is imperative that the company officer determine the predicted weather patterns at the beginning of each shift/tour of duty. This will allow the company officer to make important tactical decisions, and determine proper crew rotation and resources.

The summer months are tough, are you and your company ready?

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

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