One phrase uttered by Dr. Ellyn McIntosh could temporarily end the fun for any emergency responder tackling live-fire training projects during the recent PBF Energy corporate school in Texas, "You're outside the parameters."
In other words, take a breather. Dr. McIntosh is the manager for occupational health at PBF Energy’s Torrance, CA, refinery and part of her responsibilities is keeping tabs on the vital signs of responders dealing with stressful situations.
“We try to get them to sit for a little while,” Dr. McIntosh said. “Then we recheck to see if it’s just overexcitement about the fire or something else. But we have, on occasion, had people sit out the whole exercise.”
Dr. McIntosh is the first medical doctor on staff with PBF Energy in the role of occupational health manager. Part of her responsibilities is to monitor the health of employees applying to join the refinery’s emergency response team.
“We do a very comprehensive physical exam that includes a blood test,” she said. “Sometimes, if an applicant is determined to be at risk, we even conduct a stress test or EKG.”
For those who are accepted to join the ERT, the testing establishes an individual’s baseline parameters with regard to blood pressure and pulse. Those who are rejected get a copy of the findings to take to their personal doctor.
Otherwise, all information collected is shredded at the end of the exercise, Dr. McIntosh said.
“We keep it private,” she said.
During the corporate fire school at Brayton Fire Training Field at Texas A&M University, Dr. McIntosh was on hand to provide medical oversite during training that can be as stressful as battling a real fire.
“We’re just making sure everybody is staying hydrated,” she said. “We’re just making sure that their vital signs show us it is okay for them to participate.”
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