There is incomplete information about how physically demanding rescue work may be. The aim therefore of this paper was to examine the physiological responses of firefighters during a simulated rescue of hospital patients and to relate the firefighters' performance to their endurance, strength and working technique. Fourteen part-time male firefighters with a maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) of 4.4 +/- 0.31/min (mean +/- SD) served as subjects in this study. First, each firefighter ascended six floors (a 20.5m vertical ascent) carrying tools, wearing protective clothing and a breathing apparatus, an extra mass of 37 kg. He thereafter 'rescued' six persons by dragging each person on a fire-sheet on a floor. The technique used was recorded and the O-2 uptake and the heart rate were measured continuously during the whole operation. The blood lactate concentration and the subjective rating of perceived exertion were measured during and just after the rescue. The VO2max and the muscle strength were measured in the laboratory. The whole operation was carried out in the course of 5-9 min. The operation was a virtual all-out effort and the peak blood lactate concentration was 13+ 3 mmol/l. The peak oxygen uptake was 3.7 +/- 0.51/min ( 84% of the...

Von Heimburg, Erna Dianne; Medbø, Jon Ingulf; Rasmussen, Anna Kari
Ergonomics 49(2): 111–126
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