Tarp Assisted Cooling (TACO) for Exertional Heat Stroke Treatment

Wildland firefighters fighting grass fire.

This randomized controlled trial study will determine the efficacy of an alternative cooling method for exertional heat stroke patients in the wilderness.

Principal Investigator

Funding Agency: Wilderness Medical Society

Abstract: Exertional heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency induced by high-intensity physical activity, resulting in a dangerously high body temperature, endotoxemia, multi-organ dysfunction, and death if not treated immediately with rapid body cooling. Best practice recommendations state that cold water immersion is needed to ensure the fastest cooling rate and best chance of survival and long-term health, however, this method is unavailable in wilderness settings unless a lake, pond, or stream is nearby. Wildland firefighters endure long-duration, high-intensity work in warm conditions, placing them at risk of developing exertional heat stroke. This study will determine the efficacy of an alternative cooling strategy utilizing supplies available to wildland firefighters which may provide a faster cooling rate than the current recommended wilderness practice.