Avoid heat injuries as temps climb
March 24, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- At Fort Jackson, heat has a continuous presence here throughout the summer. Heat is a condition of our training environment and one that we mitigate through the judicious use of Composite Risk Management.
The heat season is coming soon, and I expect all of us to be ready. Daytime temperatures in our area can go from the mild 60s to the upper 90s in a moment's notice. Last spring, if you remember, was one of the hottest on record, and the surge in temperatures seemed to arrive overnight. With these things in mind, I am asking all of you to take time now to assess your heat-injury prevention and response programs.
It's important that we have everything in place before the heat season arrives. Heat injuries are preventable when we implement aggressive composite risk management strategies that include effective training and emergency response. We will not be risk averse, but we will protect our people from heat injuries.
Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated at least once a day and more often if conditions warrant. Leaders will ensure that all personnel, including Soldiers in training, understand and practice heat injury risk management and take the necessary steps to make sure every safety precaution is in place. We cannot be too cautious when it comes to protecting our people from heat injuries.
The heat injury evacuation protocol must be known, understood and implemented. It is simple: If any of the following conditions are met - signs or symptoms of a heat-related injury; a mental status change; or whenever there is uncertainty - then immediately call 911 and apply ice sheets to the injured individual.
When dialing from a mobile phone, remember that the emergency number is (803) 751-9111. Furthermore, do not take it on yourself to transport a heat-injury victim to Moncrief Army Community Hospital. Although it might seem to be a natural reaction to transport someone to the hospital, it is the wrong thing to do. Call emergency responders and wait for them to arrive. Their response times are minimal and they will assess the individual and apply their professional judgment about the severity of the injury upon arrival.
Remember that we never leave a fallen comrade, nor do we ever leave a heat-injured individual by himself or herself. Suspected heat injuries will receive continuous monitoring by the same person until the emergency responders arrive and assume responsibility. Rapid cooling is the most important treatment for a heat injury and must be initiated as soon as possible. Ice sheets will be readily available, stored in a waterproof container, immersed in ice and water and applied continuously to a casualty until emergency response personnel arrive. If you need to change to a fresh ice sheet, then do so as often as necessary.
On Fort Jackson, our great cadre will not be placed in charge of Soldiers until they are trained in heat injury prevention, identification and response. Soldiers in training will receive heat injury training as soon as possible after their arrival. Every person must know the signs and symptoms of heat injuries and have the ability to assess mental status changes.
The Fort Jackson Safety Center offers training for newly arrived cadre every Monday at 1 p.m. Contact the center at 751-6004 to register for the class.
The center also offers a variety of heat injury products, ranging from posters to booklets.
Heat can and will kill if we fail to give it the respect it deserves, so heat injury prevention and response must be a zero defect area. I expect each of you to do your part and ensure that our people are kept safe from the effects of heat.
Remember that effective risk management is crucial. Know how to prevent, identify and respond to injuries involving heat. We must make every effort to protect our Soldiers from heat injuries. We do not want one member of the Fort Jackson community to be stricken by something that we could have prevented from happening.
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