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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Leading cause of death strikes again

Saving a fellow firefighter's life starts with know the signs of cardiac arrest

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel joins the Chicago Fire Department family in mourning the loss of one of its brothers and urges us to learn more about cardiac arrest and stroke.

I know we are all joined together in sympathy for Firefighter Patmon's family and the entire Chicago Fire Department as they endure another tragic week.

Cardiac-related events remain a leading cause of firefighter deaths and injuries across the United States each year.

In some cases, like this one, the signs and symptoms are noticed and emergency medical treatment and transport are provided to the affected firefighter. Sadly, as in this incident, the best work of our EMTs, paramedics and emergency room staff is not always enough to save our brothers' and sisters' lives.

There are other instances when the affected firefighters either don't notice the signs, or attribute them to other causes such as the physical stresses and strains of strenuous fireground operations. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, firefighters are lost after going home, or going to bed, without realizing they're having a cardiac-related emergency.

No matter the level of your EMS training, if you're a firefighter it's critically important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. You can visit the American Heart Association  to learn the warning signs and share them with your crew.

More importantly, we all need to be hyper-vigilant to these warning signs in our comrades, and ourselves, and take appropriate action to get immediate advanced life support treatment and transport if there's any inkling of a cardiac event.

Stay safe.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



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