During a demonstration earlier this year on the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza, Soldiers with the 169th Engineer Battalion react to a simulated heat injury. Soldiers here are trained on the prevention, mitigation, recognition and treatment of heat illnesses.
During a demonstration earlier this year on the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza, Soldiers with the 169th Engineer Battalion react to a simulated heat injury. Soldiers here are trained on the prevention, mitigation, recognition and treatment of heat illnesses. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Wednesday was the first official day of summer, and with temperatures already starting to heat up here, heat injury prevention is a primary concern.

Staying cool in Missouri’s hot, humid weather requires some extra effort, according to Lt. Col. Jarrad Glasenapp, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment commander.

“Heat prevention and mitigation must be an integral part of the planning process for all operations. For most of our basic combat training, heat during these months is our biggest risk,” Glasenapp said.

In preparation for Missouri’s summer, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence leaders hosted a symposium earlier this year about the prevention, mitigation, recognition and treatment of heat injuries.

Oscar Powers, MSCoE Safety director, noted heat injuries — including heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other related illnesses — have been on the decline here over the past couple of years, but that mid-Missouri still sees an average of 63 days throughout the summer that reach the high end of the Army’s heat categorization system.

The Army has an acronym — HEAT — to help when trying to prevent heat injuries.

H - High heat category, especially on several sequential days (measure the wet bulb globe temperature, or WBGT, index when the ambient temperature is higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit).

E - Exertional level of training, especially on several sequential days (the past 72 hours must be considered).

A - Acclimatization — most individuals’ physiological responses to heat stress improve within 10 to 14 days of exposure to heat and regular strenuous exercise.

T - Time (length of heat exposure and recovery time).

Glasenapp said, as a battalion, they work to mitigate heat-related injuries utilizing Holistic Health and Fitness, also known as H2F, principles.

“These five pillars — sleep, nutrition, spiritual, physical, mental — are essential to human performance optimization and allow Soldiers to be prepared for the rigors of training in hot climates. This is taught to trainees within the first week at basic combat training and reinforced throughout their 10 weeks of training,” Glasenapp said.

Not only are the cadre watching out for the trainees, but trainees are being taught to be able to recognize heat-related injuries in their battle buddies.

“We integrate the trainees into our control measures during training, which includes them supporting drill sergeants where required to support someone suffering from a heat-related issue. This is reinforced through drills when arriving to a training area,” Glasenapp said.

It is also critical that the cadre remember to take care of themselves, Glasenapp added.

“A lot of emphasis is put on the care and risk mitigation for our trainees, but we focus just as much on our drill sergeants and cadre,” Glasenapp said. “While trainees get breaks between training events, drill sergeants can find themselves training throughout the day with little rest. This requires plenty of planning and preparation, to include proper nutrition, hydration, sleep and a physical-fitness regimen that all prepares you for the rigors of hot-weather training.”

At the heat injury prevention symposium this spring, several brigade surgeons spoke about the prevention, identification and assessment of heat injuries.

Maj. Nicholas Kohles, brigade surgeon for the 14th Military Police Brigade, spoke on developing controls for heat injuries, including the Army’s Arm Immersion Cooling System, or AICS.

Extremity immersion in cold water is an effective cooling method, Kohles said. He recommended three to five minutes of arm immersion in water cooled to one degree Celsius — or about 33 to 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

Kohles also explained some of the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and he provided some of the symptoms.

Heat exhaustion is caused by the loss of body fluids through sweating, vomiting or diarrhea without adequate fluid replacement. Anyone performing physical exertion in hot environments is susceptible, Kohles said.

Symptoms include excessive sweating with pale, moist, cool skin; headache or dizziness; cramps; loss of appetite; and nausea (with or without vomiting).

First aid for heat exhaustion includes loosening the uniform and removing head gear; placing the individual in a shady area; and having them drink no more than 1 to 1.5 quarts of water per hour. The individual should be constantly monitored and evacuated for medical treatment if symptoms worsen or do not improve after rest and rehydration.

Heat stroke is caused by exposure to high temperatures and a rise in body temperature, with a failure in the body’s cooling mechanisms, Kohles said.

Symptoms include confusion, weakness, dizziness, headache, seizures, nausea, stomach cramps or pain, red or hot skin, and rapid and weak respiration and pulse. Unconsciousness and collapse may occur suddenly.

“A Soldier with a heat stroke may also stop sweating,” Kohles said.

For more information on heat-illness prevention, a pocket guide is available from the U.S. Army Public Health Center.