I opened my email this morning and saw the Fire Chief’s monthly “What’s Happening” newsletter. Normally I look through it for nice little tidbits to use on our website, but this morning the LODD list jumped out at me.


Out of 15 LODD’s reported this issue, 11 were heart related wit the average age of those at 50 years old. 50 folks, not even retirement age, and the youngest was 24! Three of them were under 45, why are we doing this to ourselves?


We are all tasked with protecting our communities, and that comes with a responsibility to keep ourselves in shape. And no not round, though that is a shape, it’s not really the one we need to be in.


I am just as guilty as any one of us.


I let myself balloon to 245 a little over a year ago, and it took a rescue evolution I nearly bailed on to kick me in the head and get me going in the right direction. I still have nearly 20 pounds to go, but my vitals and blood work are in good shape already, long before I get to the physical shape I expect myself to be in.


Most of us have families who expect us to come home after whatever incident we respond to, and that is a huge responsibility that we should not take for granted. Even the single members on here have parents, siblings and friends who would be devastated if you did not come home. And in most cases LODD’s that are heart related can be prevented. Of course there are exceptions and even the fittest of us can have a congenital issue that kills us, but that is the exception…


We all need to be in better shape than the people we are tasked with protecting. It is part of the job, be it career, volunteer, seasonal, commercial, etc.


Go see your doctor and get checked before you start a fitness routine. But then start it and stick with it… Your life depends on it!




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This is a cultural issue. While being an instructor for the NFFF, EGH Courage to be Safe, 16-Life Safety Initiatives Program. I decided to study our body's response to stress, and that without looking deeper into the underlying reasons cardiac issues are so high (at such a young age) that, an instructor may not have an educated answer while delivering the program that spells out heart attacks are still leading the way.

What I found is our current lifestyles as compared to our past brothers, are now seeing more cardiac related health issues without being grossly obese or unfit due to a bunch of compounding factors. Not to type a thesis here, but we are simply eating too much junk, yes even if you think you are eating healthy, many are not due to how food is processed today. Generations ago, brothers ate non-processed foods that were straight from the earth.

Then add in today's incredibly high stress levels, (both acute and chronic stress) from family life, work, trying to pay bills, the poor economy, working two or three jobs, how about lack of sleep, lack of time to exercise regularly, and this all adds up to excessive stored fats and sugars, decreased immune systems and then add in our body's response to stress (the alarm) and how the firefighter may or may not burn off the release of all these dangerous chemicals and enzymes, and it is no wonder we see fairly fit firefighters walking around with heart disease, diabetes, etc. Tick, tock, boom, chest pains and CVA knocking at your door my friend.

But hey, the processed food tastes great, love to chat more.

I am fighting this too. We also have to consider that mental health can play into this. We need to daily continue to take care of us emotionally and psychologically. When we dont respond to us first by taking care of us we do our loved ones and our community a disservice.

I've got pulmonary fibrosis (9/11 related) and a ton of other health issues now. However, despite not being approved by my insurance for pulmonary rehab, my desire to continue serving in disaster response locally (doing mostly logistics/administrative) pushed me to join a gym and try to do my own pulmonary rehab.

You know the old adage, what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. Just kidding! Let's make this something we encourage each other to do this 2010. Work out with a buddy this week or while standing fast.
I will have to agree with FETC, I can say that it is the foods that are processed in today's society. It's called corn syrup. Corn syrup is a main ingredient in processed foods. Company's today use it in the place of pure sugar because it's cheaper to.

The next time you go to the grocery store, pick up any package and read the ingredient label and in 99% of the product that you pick up, it will have corn syrup in it. Why are more people o beast now than ever before, it's this ingredient, one of many that balloon people in today's society.

So knowing what you are placing into your body before hand, can be a start to one becoming more fit to perform such strenuous/stress related duties, and to a healthier heart. The makers of processed foods don't care about your weight, it's just how much you will purchase their product!
This is one reason why they have colon cleansing products now, many people do not understand that some of by-products we eat from the "tastes good" and is cheap "processing" process is absolutely useless to our body's well-being, therefore we gain nothing from it and cannot fully disposed of it either.

This is just the tip of the ice berg my friends, we haven't even talked about the firefighter that eats fast food, mikkie dees or beek every day, they may look a little overweight but the insides are ticking time bomb.

Childhood obesity is at an all time high, I just read about a mother who ordered pizza almost all the time because it was cheaper to feed her children that shooping, preparing, and feeding multiple kids. That has been forced into the kids since a very young age, now that kid, probably a good kid shows up at your VFD - 18 years old, young and prime to go to work for your department.

Hey Chief, can you say tick, tock, tick, tock...
Children are targeted with package's of bright colors, and their favorite cartoon characters so they will bug mom into buying them. The other side of this is, dad the firefighter will eat it too, when it's home on the shelf. Be bright.. Eat right!
Nice to get some well thought out responses.

My number one goal every shift is to go home at the end of it, and that starts with putting the right things in my body, getting myself into the gym even when I don't feel like it and trying to get the sleep I need.

Training, de-stressing, etc. all play a part too.

Love what CB says too...

Y'all TCSS!
I have to agree. I have recently rejoined a fire dept after being an over the road truck driver for 5 1/2 years. Those years have taken a toll and now I'm trying to get back into some shape other than round :). It is difficult but it's a lot better than the alternative. I weighed 348 when I came off the road and decided to make a career change before the "trucker's life" killed me. Now I'm working out almost daily and lost 25 pounds so far and looking to lose a whole lot more! I just wish it was as easy to take the weight off as it was to put it on! Getting back into fire/ems is going to have a very positive impact espically since I can actually move now lol.

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