Having worked in St. Louis, MO, for 25 years and now in Memphis, TN, I can testify to how hot it gets in the summer months of July and August. I can remember days when the heat and humidity combined (commonly known as the heat index) made it feel like 110 degrees or higher. Having been in Phoenix...
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Accountability is another component that is vitally needed when operating a rehab area. It is necessary to track who is in the rehab sector, monitor their condition and ensure they are ready to be released back to operations. The officer in charge of rehab should have the authority over when to release a firefighter back to operations. Firefighters should be released from the rehab sector only when rehab staff has determined that they are adequately rested, have been hydrated, and have responded to the care they received in the rehab area.
Rehab personnel should be alert to the firefighters who are taking longer than other firefighters to get their blood pressure and pulse back into a normal range or who are taking longer to cool down. These firefighters may have to be moved to the treatment sector for further evaluation.
Slowly but surely, the fire service is looking more closely at firefighter deaths and seeking more opportunities to drop the number of firefighter deaths each year below 100 or, dare I say, to zero.
To schedule or attend a free rehab class in your area, call Kristine Johnson at 949-297-7000.
GARY LUDWIG, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 32 years of fire-rescue service experience. Ludwig is chairman of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master's degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally, and can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.