The Navy Times reports that a Japan-based U.S. Navy sailor died in May, following a physical fitness test.
Aviation Electrician Airman Jordan Cook “exhibited symptoms of illness” on May 1, follwing participation in the physical readiness test.
Naval Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. Reann Mommsen told the Navy Times that Cook was initially taken to an on-base clinic, and later transferred to an off-base hospital, where he died on May 2.
In the wake of Cook’s death, the Navy announced “universal training precautions” intended “to reduce the risk of exercise-related collapse and death during physical exercise.”
A press release noting the new guidelines — communicated through a naval administrative message, or NAVADMIN — calls on command fitness leaders to “foster an exercise culture that promotes (universal training precautions), recognizes the early signs of distress and promptly terminates exertional activity when individuals display clear signs of distress.”
The release notes that the Navy PRT is intended as a long-term measure of health and wellness, and not of individual athletic prowess. “No one should risk their life by pushing through life-threatening conditions during a PRT,” the release reads.
The release noted a variety of personal and external risk factors that could lead to exercise-related collapses, including everything from poor baseline conditioning, underlying cardiac conditions, inherited sickle cell traits and exercise at altitude.
Cook’s death was the third such death in the Navy this year. Two Seaman Recruits — 18-year-old Kelsey Nobles and 20-year-old Kierra Evans — also collapsed during or after PRTs and later died.
The Navy Times reports that such deaths are relatively rare, however, citing Naval Safety Center reporting that indicates 17 physical training fatalities occurred over the past 10 years.