Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

The Effects of Energy Drinks in the Fire Service
By Dan Bodin, Doctorate of Medicine, Member FDSOA

 Let us review the essential duties of a firefighter and what is expected of each firefighter as we are “called to duty”.  That alarm goes off, and we step on the truck; we are in route to the scene.  This “call to duty” is the beginning of physiological changes and challenges firefighters experience.  These changes involve sympathetic arousal, heavy strenuous work in an adverse environmental condition with unknown exposures that can lead to hyperthermia and dehydration, as well as exposures which lead to the loss of our electrolytes.  What follows is disorientation, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and lethargy.  An adrenaline rush pursues with anxiety and eventually a cardiovascular strain.  This compilation of physiological changes is more likely to occur in firefighters who possess an excess of traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease along with underlying atherosclerosis and/or structural heart disease.  Then the psychological stress kicks in when we go into the fire not knowing what to expect every step we take into the exposure.  The possibilities of what we may come across; the trapped victims, the deaths of family members, the children, and fallen firefighters.

 When we add energy drinks on board we have increased our risk of a cardiovascular event to happen even sooner.  Over 38 countries around the world have either banned these drinks due to the detrimental side effects or placed age limitations on them according to Quartz Media.  Studies world-wide have proven the dangers of regular intake of these drinks.

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