Exertional heat illness incidence and on-site medical team preparedness in warm weather


To investigate the influence of estimated wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) and the International Institute of Race Medicine (IIRM) activity modification guidelines on the incidence of exertional heat stroke (EHS) and heat exhaustion (HEx) and the ability of an on-site medical team to treat those afflicted. Medical records of EHS and HEx patients over a 17-year period from the New Balance Falmouth Road Race were examined. Climatologic data from nearby weather stations were obtained to calculate WBGT with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (WBGTA) and Liljegren (WBGTL) models. Incidence rate (IR) of EHS, HEx, and combined total of EHS and HEx (COM) were calculated, and linear regression analyses were performed to assess the relationship between IR and WBGTA or WBGTL. One-way ANOVA was performed to compare differences in EHS, HEx, and COM incidence to four alert levels in the IIRM guidelines. Incidence of EHS, HEx, and COM was 2.12, 0.98, and 3.10 cases per 1000 finishers. WBGTA explained 48, 4, and 46% of the variance in EHS, HEx, and COM IR; WBGTL explained 63, 13, and 69% of the variance in EHS, HEx, and COM IR. Main effect of WBGTA and WBGTL on the alert levels were observed in EHS and COM IR (p < 0.05). The cumulative number of EHS patients treated did not exceed the number of cold water immersion tubs available to treat them. EHS IR increased as WBGT and IIRM alert level increased, indicating the need for appropriate risk mitigation strategies and on-site medical treatment.

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Correspondence to Yuri Hosokawa.

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Hosokawa, Y., Adams, W.M., Belval, L.N. et al. Exertional heat illness incidence and on-site medical team preparedness in warm weather. Int J Biometeorol 62, 1147–1153 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-018-1517-3

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  • Wet bulb globe temperature
  • Activity modification
  • Road race medicine
  • Environmental stress