U.S. Navy Reviewing Fitness Training Procedures after Deaths of Two Recruits

Navy training deaths
(Photo by gblakeley / Getty Images.) The United States Navy has identified several risk factors that can lead to severe overexertion in its recruits. These include asthma, sickle cell trait, heat-induced sickness, underlying heart conditions and exposure to high altitude.

The United States Navy is reviewing its current training and safety procedures after the boot camp deaths of two young recruits.

On April 23, 18-year-old recruit Kelsey Nobles experienced cardiac arrest after completing her fitness test at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, according to Military.com. She was later pronounced dead at nearby Lake Forest Hospital.

On Feb. 22, 20-year-old recruit Kierra Evans collapsed after the running portion of her fitness test, also conducted at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, and was later pronounced dead.

"Recruit Training Command reviewed the training, safety, medical processes, and overall procedures regarding the implementation of the Physical Fitness Assessment and found no discrepancies in its execution," Lt. Joseph Pfaff told Military.com. "However, there is a much more in-depth investigation going on and, if information is discovered during the course of the investigation revealing deficiencies in our processes and procedures that could improve safety in training, it would be acted on."

Evans died after completing her timed run, the final phase of the Navy’s three-stage fitness evaluation. The run was added to the test, which also includes curl-ups and push-ups, in 2018. Female recruits have 18 minutes and seven seconds to cover a 1.5-mile distance.

The Navy has since issued a memo that asks sailors to watch recruits more closely during fitness tests. This includes new guidelines for ending tests when recruits show unusual signs of fatigue, as well as allowing them to repeat the tests later with no penalty.

More specifically, the memo establishes that every recruit should be monitored during a 10-minute cool-down period after any kind of physical exertion. Additionally, CPR-trained personnel with defibrillators must be present during Physical Readiness Tests (PRTs). The tests must also be conducted within an ambulance’s standard emergency response radius.

The Navy identified several risk factors that can lead to severe overexertion, including asthma, sickle cell trait, heat-induced sickness, underlying heart conditions and exposure to high altitude.

"No one should risk their life by pushing through life-threatening conditions during a PRT," the Navy said in the memo. "One loss is too many, and it is critical that every sailor understands the risk factors for exercise-related death and the strategies to minimize those risks."

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