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Firefighter Fitness- Should You Exercise While You're Sick?

It’s that time of the year.  The flu bug is in full affect and is probably making its way through a firehouse near you.  We get exposed to lots of different viruses through EMS responses, hospital transports and via the close confines of the firehouse.  I get a lot of people asking me if they should try to exercise while they are battling the flu or the cold.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the general rule of thumb is that if your symptoms are from the neck up; then “yes” give your workout a go.  If your symptoms are below; then “no.” Here’s what I mean: If you have a common cold, runny nose, sore throat, and/or NO fever, then light to moderate exercise is generally “ok.” If your illness involves body aches, fever, diarrhea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, and/ or fatigue then it’s best to “REST.”…

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A new weapon for Firefighters war on Heart Disease

Heart disease kills more on-duty firefighters than anything else — and it is definitely linked to emergency duties, a Harvard study shows. Most people think firefighters’ biggest death threats are fires and collapsing buildings. But over the last 30 years it’s been shown that 45% of firefighters’ on-duty deaths come from heart disease.    Over these last 30 years the actual percentage of fire calls has decreased yet the rate of heart attacks has remained the same.  So why haven’t we (as Firefigthers, Paramedics and EMT’s) done anything to prevent it?  Part of the issue is that firefighters exertion on the fire scene causes an excessive amount of stress on the heart, thus causing heart attacks.  Many of the firefighters that died from a heart related issue had prior “heart health warning signs” like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  These heart health risks coupled with the extreme exertion are a bad…

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Snacking around the Firehouse

Everyone (especially around the firehouse) loves a good snack. But what actually is a “good” snack. If you ask some, they will define a good snack as something that tastes great but doesn’t fill you up like a meal.  If your stomach starts rumbling and lunch is still two hours away, you’re going to need a snack to make it through the day. What firefighters/emts/ must remember is that the foods you eat at snack time can make a big difference in your energy level, decision making, performance, and overall health. Choose the wrong snack, and you’ll feel dragged down, tired and cloudy.  Choose wisely, and you’ll get the boost and performance you need. Choose your snacks wisely, you never know when you will need the exra energy.  Before your next snack break, think twice about what you are about to eat and remember the following information when you’re craving a snack!…

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The Importance of a Strong Core for Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics

Each year, tens of thousands of Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics are injured while fighting fires, responding to incidents, transporting patients and training for the job. While a majority of the injuries are minor, a significant number are debilitating and career-ending.  Of these debilitating injuries almost 50% have to do with low back pain and a recent survey by the International Association of Fire Fighters determined that about half of all injury retirements were due to back injuries.  The high rate of low back injuries can be attributed to the high-risk activities that we are expected to perform, such as operating charged hoselines, climbing ladders, breaking windows, ventilating structures, performing overhaul and lifting objects greater than 40 lbs.  As you know, these tasks are often accomplished while the body’s posture is ergonomically unsound or on unstable ground. I know I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, but I do…

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Firefighters…the ultimate athlete?

As a firefighter (paramedic and emt included), you train to mitigate the risks that you are sure to face on the job.  Your fitness cannot be a liability, it must be on par with the skills you have spent so much time learning.  Like an athlete, you must be game ready at all times. What does it mean to be game ready as a firefighter?  To be ready, you must be training like a firefighter. I see too many firefighters training like bodybuilders or like the athletes that they may have been in high school or college. You can’t train like a triathlete to play football nor train like a football player to play hockey.  Training like a firefighter requires that you train in a way to specifically address the physical requirements of the job.  That means working to acquire extreme levels of cardio vascular, muscular and metabolic endurance. You need the…

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Get fit for duty, stay fit for duty.

Train like your life depends on it…because it does.  I’m sure you’ve heard that slogan before either at a seminar or around the firehouse.  What exactly does it mean?  In the context of this website we (I) mean that every fireifghter, emt, and paramedic should look at their level of fitness as another tool like an axe, ladder or IV for that matter.  Your level of fitness can have a huge impact on the outcome of an accident or scene (fireground or other).  The fire rescue business is not based on individual efforts, its the controlled and coordinated effort of a crew.  Each person of the crew has a specific task that must be completed.  In most of these cases failure of a task could lead to injury or possibly death.  Your level of fitness determines of efficiently and effectively that task is carried out. Now I ask you…are you…

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