The thermal demands of flood rescue and impacts on task performance

Michael J. Tipton, Cristian Abelairas-Gómez, Adrian Mayhew, Gemma S. Milligan

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Objective: To determine the thermal demand of simulated Flood Rescue tasks and impacts on performance.

Methods: Ten participants undertook two simulations: ‘Cold’ (4 °C)-participants stood in knee height moving water (4.8km·h−1), with simulated wind and rain for 60 min. ‘Warm’ (20 °C)-participants performed 6x7 min walking in knee height moving water (3.2km·h−1), pulling 10kg. Grip strength, manual dexterity, and jump height were measured pre and post.

Results: The cold resulted in cooling of the great toe and finger (9.98 [0.84]°C and 10.38 [8.21-12.1]°C respectively). Jump height, manual dexterity and grip strength fell by 20%, 22% and ∼13% respectively. In the ‘Warm’: heart rates were 157 (19)b.min−1, oxygen consumption 30.62 (7.83)−1.min−1, and sweat loss 1.06 (0.31)L. There were no differences in the physical tests.

Conclusion: Flood Rescue represents significant, but different, challenges. Remaining static in the cold resulted in peripheral neuromuscular cooling, whilst exercising in the warm resulted in significant thermal challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Issue number1
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • fitness
  • flowing water
  • personal protective equipment
  • technician


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