Aqua Vests help Loomis firefighters beat the heat

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Hot summers make staying cool a priority, especially for emergency responders fighting fires in scorching heat. Last June, a fire gutted a Loomis home and sent three firefighters to the hospital suffering from heat stroke. All were treated and released, but Loomis Fire Protection District personnel think they can avoid that type of medical emergency in the future. The district has purchased a four-man Aqua Vest system for approximately $2,300 that relies on ice, water and a rechargeable battery-operated pump to quickly cool off dangerously hot firefighters. “The system circulates ice water that cools down your core and lowers blood pressure,” said Captain John O’Leary, with Loomis Fire. O’Leary said four of his crew members participated in a controlled field study of the equipment. Based on the results of fatigued firefighters’ vitals returning to normal in six minutes, they were sold. O’Leary said his crew used the Aqua Vest system to cool down recently after fighting a grass fire. “It’s really nice, the temperature is not a shock,” O’Leary said. Capt. Darrell Jones, with Loomis Fire, said the vests are “awesome” and will “dramatically cut down” the incidence of heat stroke and will decrease a firefighters recovery time. “The vests help you cool down faster than normal so you can get back into the fight faster. It’s absolutely frustrating for a firefighter to have to sit and cool off for hours before they can go back in,” Jones said. The Aqua Vest is being marketed by Bob Brodovsky, a drag car racer who discovered the product after he nearly crashed during a race. He said the temperature in his car was 130 degrees and he developed heat stroke. He said his car started to drift during the race, but he was able to regain control. Brodovsky said he found the Aqua Vest at a trade show. He purchased one for himself and was so impressed that he became the West Coast distributor for the product through his racing business, WHP Motorsports. The firefighter system, Brodovsky said, relies on an ice chest filled with ice, a battery-operated water pump, water and tubing sewn into a vest. The vest is also offered in an individual, portable version that uses a backpack or fannypack to hold the ice and water instead of an ice chest. Two Loomis businessmen see the benefits of the individual cooling system. Jeff Bair and Rob Koya own and operate Golden Eagle Automotive Repair, formerly Fox’s Automotive. “It gets to be 115-120 degrees in the repair garage,” Bair said. Koya, Bair’s brother-in-law, said, “I could see where this would be very beneficial for the technicians. We have no insulation, only swamp coolers.” Cop Cooler, priced at $299, is another cooling system designed for the driver’s seat of law enforcement vehicles. Instead of a vest, ice water is circulated in a seat cover. Brodovsky, a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy and the Town of Loomis traffic officer, uses the Cop Cooler as a body armor cooling system in his patrol car. He markets the products when he is off duty. “Normally, an officer has to leave the car running to keep it cool. I can save gas because I turn off the car and use the seat cover to keep me cool. You start feeling it in 30 seconds,” Brodovsky said. Brodovsky also markets a Cool Shirt that starts at $189. He said the Aqua Vest and Cool Shirt both have portable systems and can be used by professional drivers, and outdoor and warehouse workers. For more information on the Aqua Vest, Cop Cooler or Cool Shirt, call 871-0726 or go to ---------------------- HEAT STROKE Causes: Exercise or heavy work in hot environments combined with inadequate fluid intake Symptoms: Rapid heartbeat, confusion or unconsciousness, dizzy or lightheaded, headache, nausea, fainting Treatment: Move out of sun. Call 911. Fan and cool with damp sheets or cool water. Drink cool water or other nonalcoholic, caffeine-free beverage Source: