Skidmore to study firefighters’ heart attacks

Skidmore to study firefighters’ heart attacks

09 August 2014

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USA —   Skidmore College will receive a $1.4 million research grant to study on-the-scene heart attacks among firefighters.

The award, from Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration provided under the Fiscal Year 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, is under the direction of Denise Smith, professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore.

Smith said the grant would be used for the largest national study investigating the precise medical cause of cardiac deaths in the fire service.

“Our study will be a critical step in helping to determine better screening and treatment options to protect our first responders,” she said. “Working closely with our partners at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Harvard University, we will review medical records of firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty to determine the precise cause of death, and to identify risk factors that may be detected or screened for before a tragedy occurs.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) said Skidmore College has been a national leader in documenting the cardiovascular strain associated with firefighting. “This research topic is particularly important as approximately 50 percent of firefighter line-of-duty deaths are due to sudden cardiac events. The research done at Skidmore with this support can be used not just locally to keep our emergency responders safe in the line of duty, but across the entire nation.”

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, the AFG has provided approximately $5.6 billion in grants to first-responder organizations to obtain much-needed emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, research and training. During fiscal year 2013, the AFG will award another $288.8 million to first-responder organizations that need support to improve their capability to respond to fires and emergencies of all types.

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