Author Topic: Question for the fire fighter folks  (Read 397 times)

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Offline pete28

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Question for the fire fighter folks
« on: April 03, 2017, 05:44:11 PM »
So quite a while ago I asked folks what is their beverage of choice for hydration purposes as I had went down with heat exhaustion/stroke twice in a one month period last summer. The majority chose water and lighter colored Gatorade. Fast forward to now. So Saturday we had our live burn day to get our Fire fighter one certification. Beginning on Thursday I started using no sugar, sweets, or any junk food to prepare. I also began an extensive hydration regiment to prepare. I started with 2 gallons of water spread out throughout Thursday. On Friday I had 3 gallons of water and mixed in 2 32 ounce bottles of Gatorade. Saturday morning comes and I was drinking a 12 ounce bottle of water every 15 minutes even if I was standing still. We got through our first evolution in very good time. Between preparation for the exercise and completing the evolution I was in my full turnout gear for 30 minutes. I came out of my gear and was hotter than Haiti's and sweating like it was raining. Our EMS folks were checking our vitals before and after every evolution and mine were perfect. So water and Gatorade it was until we had to do the next evolution. Our next one was connecting to a standpipe and doing an above and below grade fire. Got in wonderfully and was moving right along and my partners low air alarm went off. We slowly evacuated, went outside and did a hot bottle swap. We start making our way upstairs and I felt that wa wa wa wa feeling in my head. Got to the top stair and started doing the new born deer walk according to my instructor. About the time they started helping me down the stairs one of our other folks went down also but not quite as bad as me and a mayday was immediately called. They got me down the stairs put ice packs in all the places, put me in the bus with the ac on high and started two large bore iv bags. I went through them in less than 15 minutes and they got through half of the 3rd one before I fully came around and was not that whitish blue color. I guess my question is what on earth can I do different? I eat healthy, I am outside all the time for work. We have the second part of our training this Saturday evening to try to cut down on the heat a little bit. Any help would be greatly appreciated guys. I have been working incredibly hard to get certified and don't want to get put out due to heat exhaustion or stroke.
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 06:25:20 PM »
I am no fire fighter nor an EMT but it looks to me like you drank too much water and it thinned out the chemicals in your blood.  I have had encounters with dehydration working in the sun at a forge.  I find a steady intake of plain, cool water works the best.  And let yourself sweat.  The bill is in the mail.
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 05:12:49 AM »
i'm not one either.

so you mentioned sugar and junk food fast; is that something you consume alot of otherwise? Off hand we know that stuff aint good for us, but if consuming those contributes to heat intolerance, why would 2-3 days be sufficient to heal from any damaging effects?  Since you like herbal medicines, why not select a few plants to effect a through cleanse? couldn't hurt as far as I know.

if I am recalling the thread you are talking about, one of the things I linked or talked on was the danger of over hydrating. QC may be on to something there. Gatorade doesnt have much in it compared to the minerals and electrolytes in Himalayan and Celtic sea salt- delicious and good for you. A body needs salt, might as well ingest the good stuff.

Probably most of us have heard or read, once you have been bitten as you describe, one can develop a heat intolerance condition. T or F? I am not sure, however my guess would be True.

Best wishes Pete. I hope you heal up soon

Offline xj35s

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 10:18:18 AM »
I have a question, Are you expected to be in full turnout gear for periods of more than 30 minutes? It seems a human body in confinement during hard exercise for 30 minutes is going to fail.

Are there no pockets inside for cold packs or fresh air vent for non fire use? It seems like a condition a body can't endure to me. Would heavy cardio help? probably not.

Maybe conditioning your body to extreme heat like a sauna for extended periods would be beneficial, or I'm an idiot. I'm thinking of that effect on the body where in January 40 degrees is t shirt weather but in august you need a sweatshirt.

I used to mow 30,000 80 to 100 lbs bales of hay each day for 7 days straight. We guzzled in between wagons only. It was wicked hot in the peak especially with 4 guys up there. We didn't wear a bear suit while doing it though!!
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Offline Orbean

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 10:42:40 AM »
I have worked outside forty plus years here in NM, brutal heat, worked in las Cruces and Carlsbad In 100+ temps but with exceptions have never work at 90+ degrees with high humidity. Don't know how you guys do it.
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Offline pete28

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 06:52:39 PM »
Thank you for asking questions that I should have clarified a lot more.

Unknown, I am not a junk food or extreme sugar kind of guy. I do like a bowl of ice cream often enough though :) I don't drink coffee or soda and only have sweet tea once in a while. I looked into the overhydrating thing to see if it was a possibility. I am going to make a trip to my doctors to see what they say. As for the heat injury happening more and more frequently after you have had it once you are correct. Although not something I am proud of I have been severely heat sick requiring iv treatment a total of 8 times now. 4 of those over the past two years. I used to go through the standard stages of cramps, headache and then vomiting. Now, there are no stages I simply crap out and don't even feel it coming.

XJ  During our live fire training we are only in full turnout gear as long as the evolution takes to complete which can vary. We don our gear a few minutes before the evolution and then man the secondary hose line for the team inside. Keep in mind we only do one live fire training for class. That being said if we have an actual fire that we respond to there is no telling how long we could be in full gear. Unfortunately there are no real vents to speak of. A good cardio routine would certainly build up your stamina but might not help much with the heat issue. Some guys do prepare by worrkng as long as possible in hot conditions without risking injury

I baled hay once to help a friend out when I was younger. I was in good shape but man that sucked


Orbean Almost all of my jobs have been outside work my entire life. When I moved to Florida and started doing wildland fire fighting the heat definitely threw me for a loop. I slowly got used to it and proceeded from there. Now that I am pursuing being a structural firefighter the whole game is changed. Heavier gear and a lot of different situations. I spoke to my chief about it as it is concerning me a great deal. He said even seasoned structure guys get heat sick. He's had guys get about half way through a fire start cramping up and go to the EMS guys to get some iv fluids and go right back to work. He said my situation is much much different. Hope the doctor can find something wrong in a way so that I can fix it.  I just don't have it in me to bow out of a job or say I can't finish. I don't want to get injured and definitely don't want to risk the safety of the guys I am with.
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2017, 08:34:08 PM »
No coffee? Maybe that's it?

Going to see your doctor sounds like a great idea. Is there a specialist he can refer you too might be worth inquiry. 8, is that a lot compared to your comrades? 

Damn Pete. Is there a different dream or challenge you can pursue in your profession;

I've heard people die from this sort of thing :-\  but I'm sure there are a lot of people around you that can advise better than me.

Offline Dano

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2017, 07:10:50 PM »
I'm sorry to  hear you're having an issue with heat tolerance.  I've passed out twice from heat, but recovered as soon as i hit the ground both times.  I also struggle with hypoglycemia and can almost drop from that.  In my case, I tend to under hydrate, so I have to watch that and force myself to drink more.  As for the hypoglycemia, I can keep it in check mostly by eating on a regular basis, and keeping something to snack on within reach.

The reason I mention these things is because I can see a direct relationship between what I do and how my body reacts.  In your case, what immediately went through my mind is HOLY COW 2-3 gallons in a day....something's not right here.  So I'm really glad to hear you're going to your doctor.  I have worked with a couple folks with diabetes and they would mention thirst.  You didn't mention thirst, but did refer to how much you can go through.

I REALLY hope it's not a health related issue, best wishes man!

Something else that came to mind was the recipe Cody Lundin has for a home made electrolyte drink.  If I remember correctly, it's in his book 98.6 degrees.  He also has something interesting about Hyponatremia on pgs 140 and 141 you might relate to with the heat, and a reduction in salt  https://books.google.com/books?id=rWsMXz3gNWAC&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&dq=cody+lundin%27s+electrolyte+drink&source=bl&ots=no3uUcvQ16&sig=eCXh0Hpf0wmFFpZy8YFbzg5_N6s&hl=en&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwj6jZzKzo7TAhUC3YMKHTsBAecQ6AEIITAB#v=onepage&q=cody%20lundin%27s%20electrolyte%20drink&f=false

I'll try to find my book and PM you the recipe.

Best wishes on this and your certification!!

Offline hayshaker

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2017, 08:34:55 PM »
as for fluids have you ever checked your potassium/magnesium levels?
2. things you would want to add to your rehydration drink.
best of luck with this, BUT see what the doc says 1st,
sad but if healh issues are a issue mabey have to drop the whole thing.
just saying.
when i was young and buff i used to work construction in the keys in FLA
and it got darn hot and then there was the humidity as well, you could drink the air sometimes it felt.

Offline pete28

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2017, 03:58:24 AM »
Thank you for the information everyone! Dano, I'll look forward to seeing that recipe. I have an incredible thirst a lot of times. I have checked my sugar a lot of times mainly because we have been going over it in training lol. I have been checked several times by doctors for a ton of stuff via bloodwork and other testing but I'm going to have them run a full work up and check for everything. A little more back information if it will help at all. I'm 6'1 173 lbs and I'm 42 years old. I don't smoke (used to years ago 2 packs per day) I drink a few times a month but nothing in excess. 2 years ago I was 238 lbs with a couple of health issues so I started eating better and exercising a lot more. I have had 2 neck surgeries but nothing else major. Not sure if any of this info is helpful and I will definitely see what the doctor says but I figured I would throw it out there.

I appreciate all the info and listening to me vent. Being a firefighter has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. My uncles and grandpa were all lifelong volunteer firefighters and I want to carry that tradition on. More so, I have never quit anything that I have set out to do and I certainly don't intend to do so now.
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Offline JohnE

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Re: Question for the fire fighter folks
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2017, 06:54:17 PM »
I am not a doctor. I'm an EMT who does a fair amount of volunteer work with ultra-marathon running events.

I think your visit to your doctor will reveal that you were suffering from exertion induced hyponatremia..

There is growing evidence that most of what people think they should do regarding hydration under extreme or even heavy physical activity is simply wrong.

In a nutshell you drank too much water and flushed the necessary nutrients and sodium out of your blood.

Do a Google for more info. In particular look for the studies and papers published by Marty Hoffman MD.

Marty is the Medical Director of the Western States 100 mile ultra-marathon, he's been using his work at the race to study the effects of hydration, under-hydration and over-hydration on endurance athletes.