By Bill Carey
23 July 2022
On 8 June 2019 Missouri Firefighter/Paramedic Christopher Moore was pronounced dead after having been found unresponsive in his home. Two days earlier Moore had two 12-lead ECG readings done due to complaints of chest pain while on duty. Moore’s captain urged him to go to the hospital but he refused.
The United States Fire Administration listed Moore’s cause and nature of death as Stress/Overexertion and Heart Attack .
The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention report goes into detail about Moore’s two days of chest pain and not feeling well . Moore’s symptoms were concerning enough that he did the first ECG himself on 6 June. On 7 June he had the paramedics on duty do the ECG. While neither reportedly showed any abnormalities his captain urged him to go to the hospital. More refused saying he had a doctor’s appointment on 8 June and would have his symptoms checked then. Still concerned, his captain took him off of running calls until he had a medical evaluation of the chest pain .
The physician Moore saw on 7 June was an orthopedic physician due to an earlier hand injury. The NIOSH report states that Moore did not share his chest pain symptoms with this physician .
Later on 7 June the captain texted Moore about the appointment. The report states that Moore “responded that he had sprained his hand and that they didn’t find anything on his chest pain. ” despite not telling the physician about the symptoms [bold mine].
Additional texts to Moore on the same day went unanswered. On 8 June his former wife went to his home and found him unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead by paramedics. His cause of death was identified as “acute coronary thrombus with probable
dissection complicating severe coronary atherosclerosis. ” This matches with the symptoms of pain in the jaw and both sides of the neck.
Sudden cardiac death accounts for the majority of firefighter on-duty deaths each year. Despite widespread information and training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack NIOSH reports show that many victims either ignored or did not give due attention to the warning signs. These deaths are common where the victim believes a symptom is a pulled muscle or soreness due to the physical activity. As in Moore’s case they too went home and died.
In 2020 the International Association of Fire Chiefs, along with AMR and PulsePoint launched “If You Don’t Feel Well, Don’t Make It Your Farewell” to raise the issue of ignoring the signs of a heart attack . It is vitally important that signs and symptoms of a heart attack, even ones that are not the classic symptoms, be properly evaluated as soon as possible.
- Christopher R. Moore. United States Fire Administration. Updated 9 July 2020.
- “42-Year-Career Firefighter-Paramedic Died at Home after Leaving Work Following Transient Chest Pain – Missouri.” NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program. Released 1 February 2021.
- Ibid, page 3.
- Ibid, page 4.
- Ibid, page 4.
- ibid, page 4. “There was severe atherosclerosis in the proximal portion of the right coronary artery reducing patent vessel area by 90%. In addition, further down the right coronary artery there was a blood clot that nearly blocked the entire vessel with hemorrhage into the epicardial fat tissue around it which represented a probable dissection. There was atherosclerosis in the left main coronary artery resulting in 75% blockage of the vessel interior.”
- “If You Don’t Feel Well, Don’t Make It Your Farewell” International Association of Fire Chiefs. Released 11 February 2020.
Photograph courtesy of Pixabay.