I wanted to take some time to review through the USFA's Firefighter Fatality Report for
2010. There is quite a lot of information to absorb and I definitely think all those who work to provide these reports should be commended on making this happen. The initial news coming out, was about the reduction. The lowest they said in 34 years. That is amazing and shows the impact of many to bring attention to the issues facing the fire service. However, in scanning the data, I found something interesting. While overall, the numbers went down, heart attacks actually went up. In 2009, heart attacks were at 39 (43.3%), while in 2010, they were at 50 (57.5%). I decided to look a little further and found that in 2008, 46 (39%) died from heart attacks, and in 2007 we see 52 (44.1%).
So while other areas are showing decline, the rate of fatalities as a result of heart attacks seems to be on the climb again. In case you are wondering about 2011, we are already at 32 (52.4%) as of the end of August. I understand we are all about safety, and my assumption would have to be that no one wants to intentionally increase these numbers. However, the key lesson here is that these types of fatalities are not about policy, procedures, equipment, or technology. This is clearly an individual issue. It is a choice of each and every firefighter. Firefighting is a physically demanding career. The demands are enormous. Everyone knows that. One has to wonder why someone, who chooses a profession such as this, would not eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a well balanced life. Physically, firefighters must maintain the equivalent of a professional athlete. I hear this time and time again. According to this data, some are choosing not to meet the personal standards of the job.
I am, without a doubt, not the model of good health. Nor do I claim to be. I do understand that the day-to-day demands of life can really push out the drive for better living. However, at what price? While the stop at McDonald's is much easier than making dinner, but is not worth the few extra minutes for a healthier meal. Skipping the workout, because one needs some down time can make some sense, but ultimately can result in a toll on us. However, we have accepted a position in the community that demands to take priority from a physical fitness standpoint. No where was this a requirement, but a conscious decision to enter into the fire service.
So my appeal is to the individual. What choice are you making? Are you choosing to continue being the parent and spouse that you family counts on? Are you choosing to eat better and exercise? Or are you choosing to be a statistic in one of these reports in the coming years? Because no one else can decide for you… it is solely your choice.
What are your thoughts? Share some ways that you are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and making the right choice.