In order to carry out their jobs properly, military personnel should be in peak physical condition. To ensure this, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will usually put them through an intensive training regime, covering aspects such as fitness, weapon handling, first aid, and navigation.
These exercises can take place in adverse weather conditions, with superior officers sometimes instructing servicemen to train in the depths of winter or the very heights of summer. Yet, carrying out exercises in extreme hot or cold temperatures can be hazardous and the MoD has been criticised in the past for allowing these activities to go ahead.
For example, according to the NHS, heatstroke is classified as a medical emergency and sufferers should seek hospital treatment as soon as possible. In some cases, the extreme heat can cause symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, mental confusion and unconsciousness. Moreover, the organisation states that those who undertake physical activity may display the signs of heatstroke sooner than others.
Despite this warning, the MoD continues to allow its soldiers to train in extreme weather conditions, sometimes having fatal consequences. However, those adversely affected by these activities should contact a specialist law firm to find out more information about making military compensation claims.
Training in adverse weather conditions
When the military conducts a training exercise, whether involving live ammunition or rigorous exertion, the MoD claims that regulations and risk assessments do exist. However, even the BBC states that, "it's not easy for outsiders to find out what the rules are or how they are applied".
It is also not clear if these practices help to prevent individuals from suffering personal injury. For example, in 2013, two members of the Territorial Army died after participating in training exercises during temperatures of approximately 30 degrees Celsius.
It was reported that these two men were transporting heavy equipment across rugged terrain while trying to adhere to tight deadlines. Therefore, although early investigations did not reach any definitive conclusions, it seemed likely that a combination of extreme heat and physical exertion contributed to their deaths.
Similar situations have also occurred in the past, for instance:
- Earlier in 2013, an investigation was launched into the death of a serviceman whose body was found on a mountain. It seems he was participating in a training exercise and succumbed to the freezing cold temperatures;
- In 2006, a soldier died after participating in intensive physical exercise. On admittance to hospital, his body temperature was revealed to be 41.7 degrees Celsius. Normal readings usually register at around 37 degrees Celsius;
- In 2000, an army cadet succumbed to a heat related illness after collapsing at the end of a training course. It was reported that, despite the weather conditions being mild, his equipment prevented his sweat from evaporating, resulting in his condition.
Speaking in 2000, a medical professional criticised instructors who excessively pushed their recruits, stating, "Perhaps good sense will prevail in the end if the junior commanders can be persuaded that the training exercise responsible for heat illness is not only irrelevant but also foolhardy and irresponsible."
Military compensation claims
Although servicemen should be physically fit, the MoD, as an employer, still has a responsibility to reasonably ensure their safety. If they fail to do so, those adversely affected may be able to receive military accident compensation through an experienced law firm, such as Seth Lovis & Co.
Please call us today on 0370 218 4025 to find out if you could benefit from an army claims solicitor. Alternatively, you can email our department through an online enquiry form.