Investigation of fire fighter trainee death finds pre-existing medical condition
Legal news for fire fighter attorneys. Volunteer fire fighter trainee collapses at scene of debris fire and dies, report finds pre-existing conditions as cause.
Legal news for fire fighter attorneys – Cause of death for volunteer trainee finds fire department not at fault.
Pennsylvania – Reports have concluded that the death of a 28-year-old volunteer fire fighter trainee was due to an underlying medical condition that was triggered by the physical exertion during an emergency response. These findings conclude that it is unlikely the fire department policies or procedures could have prevented the death.
On July 6, 2009, the fire fighter trainee responded to a debris fire and assisted in stretching a 1 ¾-inch handline. He then reported to the truck driver/operator that he had a severe headache and difficulty breathing. The Fire Chief was called before the trainee collapsed and crew members began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). An ambulance was called and transported him to the local hospital. Upon arrival, the attending physician assessed the trainee and consulted with paramedics. He was pronounced dead and resuscitation efforts were stopped. Final reports cite an atrial septal aneurysm as the cause of death.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire, contacted the affected fire department on July 17, 2009 to gather information for an investigation into the cause of death. Upon reviewing the following records:
FD training records
FD annual report for 2008
FD incident report
Police investigation report
Emergency medical service incident report
Primary care provider medical records
Upon review, NIOSH concluded that given the cause of death, the fire department policies and procedures could not have prevented the trainee’s death, but made recommendations towards policy changes. Some include providing annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters and phasing in a comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters.
Legal News Reporter: Tara Monks – Legal news for fire fighter attorneys.