Optimizing the Use of Phase Change Material Vests Worn During Explosives Ordnance Disposal Operations in Hot Conditions

Sarah Davey, Ben Lee, Mark Adam Smith, Mark Oldroyd, C Douglas Thake

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    2 Citations (Scopus)
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    Phase change material (PCM) cooling garments’ efficacy is limited by the duration of cooling provided. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of replacing a PCM vest during a rest period on physiological and perceptual responses during explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) related activity. Six non-heat acclimated males undertook three trials (consisting of 2 × 3 × 16.5 min activity cycles interspersed with one 10 min rest period) in 40°C, 12% relative humidity whilst wearing a ≈38 kg EOD suit. Participants did not wear a PCM cooling vest (NoPCM); wore one PCM vest throughout (PCM1) or changed the PCM vest in the 10 min rest period (PCM2). Rectal temperature (Tre), mean skin temperature (Tskin), heart rate (HR), Physiological Strain Index (PSI), ratings of perceived exertion, temperature sensation and thermal comfort were compared at the end of each activity cycle and at the end of the trial. Data displayed as mean [95% CI]. After the rest period, a rise in Tre was attenuated in PCM2 compared to NoPCM and PCM1 (−0.57 [−0.95, −0.20]°C and −0.46 [−0.81, −0.11]°C, respectively). A rise in HR and Tskin was also attenuated in PCM2 compared to NoPCM and PCM1 (−23 [−29, −16] beats⋅min–1 and −17 [−28, −6.0] beats⋅min–1; −0.61 [−1.21, −0.10]°C and −0.89 [−1.37, −0.42]°C, respectively). Resulting in PSI being lower in PCM2 compared to NoPCM and PCM1 (−2.2 [−3.1, −1.4] and –0.8 [−1.3,−0.4], respectively). More favorable perceptions were also observed in PCM2 vs. both NoPCM and PCM1 (p < 0.01). Thermal perceptual measures were similar between NoPCM and PCM1 and the rise in Tre after the rest period tended to be greater in PCM1 than NoPCM. These findings suggest that replacing a PCM vest better attenuates rises in both physiological and perceptual strain compared to when a PCM vest is not replaced. Furthermore, not replacing a PCM vest that has exhausted its cooling capacity, can increase the level of heat strain experienced by the wearer.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number573521
    Number of pages12
    JournalFrontiers in Physiology
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright © 2020 Davey, Lee, Smith, Oldroyd and Thake.
    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


    NP Aerospace Ltd., Coventry, United Kingdom.


    • extreme environments
    • Heat stress
    • uncompensable heat stress
    • explosive ordnance disposal suits
    • phase change cooling
    • heat stress
    • explosive ordnance disposal

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology (medical)
    • Physiology


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