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Firies feel the heat in Trauma Centre training exercise

Northern Territory fire and rescue officers will join their Queensland counterparts in feeling the heat over the next 24 hours as they are put to the test in responding to a simulated building collapse emergency today.

A research project being undertaken by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre examines the challenges faced by Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) officers working in the harsh environmental conditions of Australasia’s tropical north particularly when responding from temperate or cooler climates.

The project challengers 17 fire officers – 11 from Queensland and 6 from the Northern Territory – in an exercise being held at the Yarrawonga joint emergency services training facility. The exercise begins around midday today and concludes midday tomorrow. Additional support has also been provided from a member from NSW Fire Brigade and SA Metropolitan Fire Service.

Previous research collaboration between the NCCTRC Research Manager and the NT Fire and Rescue Service has shown that fire fighters and medical responders working in tropical conditions rapidly store body heat, due to the combination of physical exertion, hot climate and protective clothing/equipment.

The 24-hour exercise will test the USAR officers through a series of tasks normally encounted in disaster scenarios. Their physiological responses including core body temperature, heart rate and sweat rate are monitored by the NCCTRC research team headed by Dr Matt Brearley.

Dr Brearley said results of the research will provide the most current, accurate data for the development of strategies to maximise the safety, health and performance of USAR teams deployed to tropical regions.

The research project is funded through a Trauma and Disaster Management Research Grant scheme which is managed through the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland Health.