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Heat stress and bulkiness of chemical protective clothing impair performance of medical personnel in basic lifesaving tasks

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The study examined the impact of chemical protective (CP) clothing on the performance of lifesaving tasks in thermoneutral and cold conditions. Eleven males performed pre-exercise followed by lifesaving tasks wearing either field combat uniform at 21°C (U) or CP clothing at 21°C (CPN) and-;5°C (CPC). The tasks were ventilating a doll (VA) and connecting an intravenous line (IV). Mean skin temperature was significantly higher for CPN compared to U and CPC during pre-exercise, VA and IV. Changes in blood pressure were significantly greater with CP clothing than without during VA and IV. The number of breaths per min (in VA) and time needed for IV increased by 19% (p < 0.05) and 18%, respectively, for CPN compared to U. Due to the cold, the additional increment was 5% and 17%, respectively, for CPC. Wearing of CP clothing in thermoneutral or in cold conditions may not prevent but, especially in the cold, significantly impede the performance of basic medical tasks. The findings of this study showed that performing medical tasks while wearing nuclear, biological and chemical protective clothing is impaired due to significant changes in physiological strain. This suggests that realistic training in local conditions as well as in cold conditions is needed to realise the restrictions due to protective clothing.
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Keywords: NBC; cannulation; cold strain; heat strain; paramedic; ventilation assistance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Physical Work Capacity, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland 2: Center of Military Medicine, Finnish Defence Forces, Helsinki, Finland,Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland 3: Department of Clothing & Textiles, Kyungpook National University, Republic of Korea 4: Physical Work Capacity, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland,Department of Physiology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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