What does a healthy and fit firefighter, EMT, and/or medic look like? This list will help define and guide members of the fire service to better health.
Listen to Aaron Zamzow on the FRF Podcast Talk about the "Healthy 10."
Take a firefighter that is 10 percent body fat, works out regularly, and can perform well on the job and compare them to another firefighter that is 20 pounds overweight, and does some exercise from time to time, but can still do the job. Which is more fit and healthy? I think the correct answer would be the first firefighter.
Now, take the first firefighter they have not seen the doctor in years, do not regularly wear their SCBA during overhaul, drink 4 times per week and use tobacco, and have unhealthy relationships. Now, how fit and healthy are they?
Take the second firefighter that is a little overweight. They are working to improve their fitness, they get their annual medical and cancer screens, occasionally drink and do not use tobacco, and have healthy relationships.
Which firefighter or first responder is more healthy?
Over the past 15 years, I have been speaking to organizations and at conferences and creating resources to keep first responders more fit and ready for the fire/ rescue scene. The more places I went, the more conversations and discussions were created around this topic and the questions listed above. As you can see from the example above, we as firefighters, EMTs, and medics can appear to be fit, yet be unhealthy. You may be able to bench press a house but not getting your annual medicals and cancer screens may be the next "line of duty death" and not know it.
We in the fire service are more likely to die from cancer, heart attack, stroke, and suicide than on a call or on the fire scene. And, the data proves this is only going to increase as cancer rates in the fire service are skyrocketing. The other aspect of our health that is now just starting to be addressed is mental and emotional. PTSD and mental trauma can take their toll on our careers and relationships.
We need to do better. There is a slogan that many firehouses and leaders use routinely and it is very valid. "Everyone must go home," this is the goal of every shift. That slogan rings so true in the fire service that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation uses it as one of its taglines. This mindset also helped to create the 16 life-saving initiatives that have sparked a movement for a safer fire service. And, for the last 20 years, this has dramatically improved safety and culture. Now, we (as a fire service) need to amend that slogan that has driven so many positive changes. We need to strive to be more complete and focus on "EVERYONE GOES HOME...HEALTHY."
The NFFF also believes this as they have created the FRCE (First Responder Center for Excellence) with the purpose of focusing on promoting a healthy fire service. And, this is also my personal mission. Fire Rescue Fitness has helped over 30,000 firefighters, EMTs, and medics improve their functional fitness with our effective programs. And FRF will continue to do that! My new goal, however, is to step it up and provide the best resources not only for fitness but for complete health.
The Birth of the Healthy 10
Below you will see a list of 10 things fit and healthy firefighters, EMTs, and medics do. Based on this list, how would you rate your health? Are there any items and/or tasks that should be added?
FRF is dedicated to creating resources and programs that will help every first responder "cross off" the tasks on this list. Please reach out with feedback! I will be dedicating a "special page" on FRF with links to more resources for each number.
And, FRF just launched a new BETTER EVERY SHIFT Challenge to help motivate you to accomplish "total" health. Your entry into the challenge includes FRF workout programs, eating guides, coaching, prizes, and the proceeds benefit organizations promoting firefighter health. Click here for more information! Now is the time to GET FRF.
Please let me know what I can do to help you and your crew. Join the "challenge" and support the HEALTHY 10.
Aaron Zamzow (ZAM)