Last year, 61 firefighters died while on duty in the United States, the fewest since NFPA began conducting this annual study in 1977. Of those 61, 31 died of sudden cardiac deaths, usually heart attacks. Among these was a 35-year-old firefighter who was found unresponsive and without a pulse in his bunk at 7:45 a.m. at the end of a 24-hour shift. During the shift, he had been assigned to a two-person rescue unit that had responded to 10 emergency medical calls. Paramedics immediately started CPR, attached a heart monitor, established intravenous in both arms, intubated him, and used a bag valve mask for ventilations as they rushed him to the hospital. Despite their efforts and those of the hospital staff, the firefighter died.
For more information on firefighter fatalities in 2011, read “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, 2011” in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.