Study Aims to Help Firefighters Stay Safe on the Job
IRVINE, August 7, 2007 (KABC-TV) (KABC) -- Firefighters risk their lives saving others. Now a new study could help keep them safe.
Battling the flames, firefighters are pushed to the limit. It's a strenuous job, and they wear 60 pounds of gear. Add in their protective clothing, which helps keep the fire out but locks in the heat from their hard work, and their body temperatures and heart rate can quickly reach the danger zone.
"It's like a car going from zero to 60 in a matter of four seconds. You go from nothing to max heart rate and really that's why they say that heart attacks happen so often to firefighters," Firefighter Brad Lineberger, of the O.C. Fire Authority, said.
In hopes of saving lives, the Orange County Fire Authority is conducting a high-tech test using tiny transmitters to track firefighters' vital signs in real time as they're put through the paces.
"The information we hope to get from this, hopefully will allow us to zero in on what those stresses are. If we know what they are, then we can better prepare our people for firefighting and for emergencies," Captain Mike Contreras, of the O.C. Fire Authority, said.
The drill is meant to simulate the real thing. The fire is burning between 500 and 600 degrees, but in real life, firefighters face flames up to 1,500 degrees.
The study is also looking at the best ways to quickly drop body temperature and heart rate, reducing the risk of life-threatening trouble.
"We're used to pushing it extra hard to get the job done and at times, to our own demise, we're going into trouble. And so we have to hop off and get rehydrated as fast as we can in order to be feeling better and there again ready to go for the next job," Captain Jeff Hoey, of the O.C. Fire Authority, said.
The O.C. Fire Authority says it will take a couple of weeks to analyze all the data and are hoping to publish the results, giving firefighters across the country better tools to protect themselves and the public.
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