By Maj. Gen. James M. MilanoJuly 8, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- Last month will go down in history - tied with June 1952 - as the hottest June on record for the Columbia area since records began being compiled 123 years ago. The average 2010 June temperature was nearly 84 degrees.
As summer kicks into high gear this month and continues into August, we are guaranteed to see many more steamy days with Category V heat, which is the classification for when temperatures reach 90 degrees and above. Incidentally, the local temperature topped 90 degrees 30 times leading up to the start of summer this year.
The outlook is that training likely will be affected for quite some time before any real relief from Mother Nature arrives. In the meantime, it's reassuring to know that Fort Jackson has an outstanding track record in regard to how it deals with heat threats and how it manages heat injuries. I would like to make sure that the record is extended.
I also want our leaders to stand back and reassess their heat-injury prevention efforts. Heat injuries are preventable when we implement aggressive composite risk management strategies including effective training and emergency response. Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated at least once a day and more often than that 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 firmly in place.
We cannot be too cautious when it comes to protecting our people. The heat injury evacuation protocol must be known, understood and implemented. Immediately call 911 and apply ice sheets to the injured individual if any of the following conditions are met: signs or symptoms of a heat injury; a mental status change; or whenever there is doubt.
When using a cell phone, remember that the emergency number is (803) 751-9111.
No heat victim should ever be left alone. Suspected heat injuries will receive continuous monitoring by the same person until the emergency responders arrive and assume responsibility. Remember that rapid cooling is the most important treatment for a heat injury and must begin as soon as possible. Ice sheets, which are sheets immersed in ice and water, must be stored in a waterproof container as near as possible to the Soldiers.
Cadre may not be placed in charge of Soldiers until trained in heat injury prevention, identification and response. Soldiers-in-training must receive heat injury training as soon as possible after arrival. Every person must know the signs and symptoms of heat injuries and have the ability to assess mental status change. These are critical components of the heat injury prevention program.