Heart disease and heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters in the United States today. Firefighting is a stressful job, and it is critical for firefighters to take measures to improve and maintain good cardiovascular health in order to enjoy a long and healthy life.
Firefighter Mark has his blood pressure checked.
According to the United States Fire Administration, there have been 31 on-duty firefighter fatalities between January and May 2010. 58% of those fatalities were caused by stress and overexertion. Statistics reveal further that 17 of the 31 (55%) fatalities were due to heart attacks.
During June and July, Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) EMS Program Manager/Wellness Coordinator and Firefighter Peer Fitness Trainers presented a Health and Wellness Training Block to educate all Portland firefighters about the most current cardiovascular issues that affect first responders. The goal was to create awareness around important health issues specific to emergency services including cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and on-the-job injuries and encourage firefighters to take action.
Firefighter/Peer Fitness Trainers Jon and Matt (top left photo) provide nutritional information and time for
Firefighters from Engine 13, Truck 13, and Engine 29 to check their blood pressure.
In the past, Firefighter Peer Fitness Trainers (PFT) provided information regarding typical factors related to coronary heart disease and heart attack and this time PFTs presented new studies and information showing firefighters workplace factors that are associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes. This included carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, sudden increased heart rates, heavy physical exertion, heat and noise stress, shift work, and overtime. They also provided health risk assessment tools, nutritional information, and food suggestions while eating and cooking in and away from the station. Firefighters and Trainers also went hands on with demonstrations and participation in exercises, stretching techniques, and physical fitness routines. A new stretching/active warm-up was introduced with the expectation they would decrease injury rates.
Firefighter and Peer Fitness Trainer Jon explains simple stretching techniques.
Firefighters practice a hand resistant exercise that can help to keep their neck muscles flexible and strong.
This type of exercise can also help relieve stiffness and muscle tension.
PF&R encourages firefighters to take personal responsibility for their health and wellness and take the steps necessary to keep their hearts, minds, and bodies strong. PF&R has invested in a multi-layered Health and Wellness program to support our members. Precluding emergency events, firefighters are encouraged to participate in health and wellness activities aimed toward improving and maintaining their fitness during one-hour of each shift.
Portland Fire & Rescue We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
July 15, 2010