Preventing Heat Illnesses During Basic Combat Training

Research Paper Title

Incidence, timing, and seasonal patterns of heat illnesses during U.S. Army basic combat training, 2014-2018.

Background

Risk factors for heat illnesses (HIs) among new soldiers include:

  • Exercise intensity;
  • Environmental conditions at the time of exercise;
  • A high body mass index; and
  • Conducting initial entry training during hot and humid weather when recruits are not yet acclimated to physical exertion in heat.

Methods

This study used data from the Defense Health Agency’s-Weather-Related Injury Repository to calculate rates and to describe the incidence, timing, and geographic distribution of HIs among soldiers during U.S. Army basic combat training (BCT).

Results

From 2014 through 2018, HI events occurred in 1,210 trainees during BCT, resulting in an overall rate of 3.6 per 10,000 BCT person-weeks (p-wks) (95% CI: 3.4-3.8).

HI rates (cases per 10,000 BCT p-wks) varied among the 4 Army BCT sites: Fort Benning, GA (6.8); Fort Jackson, SC (4.4); Fort Sill, OK (1.8); and Fort Leonard Wood, MO (1.7).

Although the highest rates of HIs occurred at Fort Benning, recruits in all geographic areas were at risk.

The highest rates of HI occurred during the peak training months of June through September, and over half of all HI cases affected soldiers during the first 3 weeks of BCT.

Conclusions

Prevention of HI among BCT soldiers requires relevant training of both recruits and cadre as well as the implementation of effective preventive measures.

Reference

Barnes, S.R., Ambrose, J.F., Maule, A.L., Kebisek, J., McCabe, A.A., Scatliffe, K., Forrest, L.J., Steelman, R. & Superior, M. (2019) Incidence, timing, and seasonal patterns of heat illnesses during U.S. Army basic combat training, 2014-2018. MSMR. 26(4), pp.7-14.

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