Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Police officer has liver transplant after suffering heat exhaustion


A Ramapo, New York police officer needed a liver transplant after suffering heat exhaustion while trying out for the county's emergency response team.

Richard Dube, 39, described by colleagues as a weightlifter in excellent physical shape, suffered liver damage as a result of his body temperature reaching 108F degrees on Sept. 2, authorities said.

Dube nearly died, authorities said. He was iced down at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern to bring down his body temperature, among other emergency procedures.

Dube, whose wife is expecting their first child, was taken two days later to Westchester Medical Center when his liver showed signs of failure, authorities said.

He was among eight police officers trying out for the Rescue Entry and Counter Terrorism Team, an emergency response team of police officers from most of the county's police departments, authorities said.

He became disoriented and ill after completing a 2-mile run, including stops for push-ups, leg lifts, a firemen's carry of a dummy, and calisthenics. He ran with Sheriff's Department Lt. Andrew Esposito, a unit supervisor, and other unit members.

A paramedic examined Dube and the other candidates twice during the run. All candidates were accompanied by a supervisor and unit members and had a medical examination and waiver from a doctor before taking part, authorities said.

Esposito said the temperatures were in the high 80s into the low 90s and they ran through the woods at the Rockland Fire Training Center. Dube and other recruits wore helmet and duty belts.

"It was rigorous physical fitness," Esposito said. "I don't know if I observed him drinking water. This was tragic. We're all upset. This is not what you want to see happen."

Ramapo Police PBA President Dennis Procter said Dube was recovering at Westchester Medical Center after surgery, but may need additional surgery. A liver transplant is a high-risk surgery, he said

Procter said Dube recognized his wife, patting her pregnant belly, and his parents, squeezing their hands.

The Ramapo PBA and other police officers has been raising money and making contribution for his parents to stay in Rockland. They are from Massachusetts.

Procter said he was not at the team tryouts and knows some officers and others might second-guess holding them in the hot weather. He said he couldn't pass judgment on what occurred.

He said Dube stands 6-feet-8-inches tall and weighed 265 pounds. He was in "phenomenal shape." He lifted weights and played basketball for the NYPD and Ramapo police teams.

"I don't blame the drills or how it was handled," Procter said. "There's no rhyme or reason to why this happened. We as cops got to train in all kinds of conditions and face different circumstances in hot, cold, wet, dry weather."

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