Heart attacks among firefighters account for an overwhelming number of line of duty deaths. Why? To answer this question you must first take a look at the fire service in sections.
Most people have no idea that the firehouse down the street is more than likely not occupied at this second. How could that be? Doesn't every firehouse have a fully staffed truck just waiting for the 9-1-1 caller? The simple answer to this question is NO. Most of the fire service is comprised of volunteer firefighters. Every city and region in the United States is divided by County, Municipality, Township, Parish, or one of countless other synonyms. The tax funds that are raised are then broken even further down based upon districts, municipalities, and other identifying titles.
What does that mean to the fire service? This means that a small percentage of the taxes that we pay make it to the firefighters. Believe it or not some departments rely totally on the funds that firefighters raise. Fire Trucks, Engines, Personal Protective Equipment, Tools, and countless other expenses take up a majority of funds. This leaves many departments unable to hire personnel and they rely on volunteers to staff the trucks. This would then mean that the men and women that respond to your emergency also work a full time job and have family obligations to take care of, but donate time to serve the community.
Now add into the equation that a firefighter has no idea of knowing when the emergency call will come in to the stations, nor does he/she know what they will have to do on the call. A firefighter may have to extricate somebody from a car with tools that weigh in excess of 50 pounds, lift and drag people and heavy objects, work in extreme conditions, and quite possibly do all of this on the same emergency call. Now add in the time commitment involved with training, maintenance of the equipment, and community events. Career firefighters perform every task previously mentioned as well as property inspections and department tasks.
The question of why heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters is actually quite simple to answer. Firefighters wear in excess of 55 lbs and perform work in hostile environments. Firefighters carry equipment and hoses that weigh in excess of 50 lbs. This would then equate to a man or woman carrying over 100 lbs of extra weight on their person. Starting to understand?
I will take it one step further so that you can completely grasp the reason of why firefighters are dying and suffering injuries due to heart attacks and over exertion. When a man or woman decides to pursue the job of a firefighter several different career routes exist. You could either enter through the ranks as a volunteer or you could take a test and get hired by a city department. Both of these routes will require an academy or training class to meet minimum qualifications. Minimum qualifications will require you to do the job of a firefighter and accomplish tasks to prove you have grasped a proficient level at training. Clearly this would mean that topics such as nutrition, health and fitness, workout techniques, and related subjects would be covered in detail right? The answer is NO. Firefighters that are hired through a testing process may or may not go through an academy that will include an intensive fitness regimen, but overwhelmingly the answer is firefighters are not taught how to properly prepare the mind and body to face the tasks of the job.
Most fire departments do not have access to physical fitness equipment and even less have a staff member trained on teaching techniques. In contrast professional athletes have a complete sports science staff that has the sole responsibility of keeping athletes in good shape. Why mention this? Firefighters experience the same spikes in adrenalin and insulin release that an athlete experiences during peak performance at a sporting event. Firefighters operate at 90% of lung and heart capacity while performing the job. Would you expect the star quarterback of your favorite football team to play offense and defense? Would you boo and scream for the head coach to be fired if the quarterback was not given access to fitness equipment to prepare during the season?
All Hands Working would like to issue a challenge of our own:
Instead of dumping cold water or ice on your head to donate to your charity of choice, invest in the men and women that are protecting you while you sleep. Donate to your local fire department, vote for the fire budget, and help All Hands Working by making a donation. All funds that are raised by All Hands Working go to training, and fitness equipment for firefighters. 100% volunteer organization. No paid staff and no administrative costs beyond what is absolutely necessary to fund grants. Can the organization that you are donating to say that?
Invest in your firefighters!
Record a video that simply states the following: I will walk or run a mile to support firefighter health and wellness. I challenge you to do the same. (Then nominate 3 friends) Firefighters are worth the investment. Donations accepted at www.allhandsworking.org
Awareness, Education, and Equipment
We have seen cold water challenges, ice bucket challenges, and other trends that are designed to raise money for charities. Please be safe when conducting challenges and pray for the firefighters that were injured in this incident. http://chicagofirewire.com/breaking-two-firefighters-critically-injured-ladder-makes-contact-power-lines/BREAKING- Two Firefighters Critically Injured when Ladder Makes Contact with Power Lines -...
Photo Taken Shortly Before the Incident Occurring (Photo - Tyler Arterburn) CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Several Campbellsville-Taylor County firefighters have been reported injured after an training incident near the campus of Campbellsville University.According to radio stations WCKQ-WGRK, four fi...
Keystone Coyotes would like to officially announce our first organized game. We will be having a home game on September 27th, 2014 and will face off against the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Police Department. Please join us as we raise money for Autism Speaks, All Hands Working, and a local Fire Chief in need of assistance. Tickets are available at the link below. Please Share! http://www.beyondthefiremagazine.com/coyotes-first-home-game/
Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, Depression, Anxiety, Suicide. They only have an impact on celebrities or famous people right? Military, Fire Service, Police, EMS, First Responders are immune to the impact of mental health disorders right? This website attached is a great resource if you need help.
All Hands Working exists to prevent line of duty deaths due to heart attacks, cardio vascular problems and to promote health and wellness. Behavioral Health is just as important! Be Aware and learn the signs. http://www.ffbha.org/Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance
Check out http://ffbha.org/
! Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, FBHA, Non-profit organization to promote Mental Health and Suicide Awareness in the Fire Service
Great Article and good read. http://www.havokjournal.com/military/2014/4/12/14-leadership-lessons-from-a-marine14 Leadership Lessons From A Recon Marine
Let no man call you a coward and let no man shoulder your burden. Victory often requires great sacrifice. Often times the sacrifice required may be your own. In times of great chaos, someone has to remain sane and do whatever it takes to push everyone in the right direction.