Safety and Health Week Success Stories

The 2014 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week is over, but safety, health, and training are areas fire and EMS personnel should focus on all year long. Find inspiration in the stories from the following departments, who used Safety and Health Week to enhance on-going safety and health initiatives in their departments.

East Whiteland Fire Department (Malvern, PA)

The 50 firefighters and EMS personnel at East Whiteland Fire Department, a combination department located in Malvern, PA, take health and fitness very seriously. They understand the community is depending on them to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice, and that being fit is an important component of that.

The department participates in annual NFPA medical evaluations, and career members are required to engage in at least one hour of physical fitness training per shift. Many volunteer members also participate in the physical training either at the station or at local fitness centers. The fitness training is regularly applied to real-world fire and EMS situations during training sessions.

“Our goal is two-fold,” said Dan Kerrigan, East Whiteland firefighter and assistant fire marshal. “Be prepared to safely and effectively carry out the tasks required of us when we are called, and make sure everyone goes home to their families.”

For the 2014 Safety and Health Week, the East Whiteland Fire Department designed a special fitness challenge circuit that combines or mimics typical firefighting tasks performed at emergency scenes with an added emphasis on physical fitness. The circuit can be completed either in regular clothing, bunker gear, or full turnout gear and SCBA, depending on the individual’s level of fitness. The circuit is easily set up and can be adjusted to individual or department needs. View the East Whiteland fitness challenge circuit.

To keep momentum going throughout the year, the department continues to emphasize the components of their health and wellness program as they apply to training, fireground operations, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Additional emphasis will be placed on proper diet and nutrition and being mentally prepared for the job.

West Newbury (MA) Fire Department

The West Newbury Fire Department in West Newbury, MA, is a volunteer department with 30 members. During Safety and Health Week they created a streamlined training and drill schedule that will promote safety awareness to members throughout the year. They also worked with their junior firefighters to teach them why being healthy and in shape is critical to performing all the jobs that are asked of a firefighter.

To keep the momentum going throughout the year, the department issued a challenge to each member to live a healthier lifestyle and make diet and exercise a bigger part of their daily routines. They initiated a buddy system to motivate personnel and create a better sense of collaboration and teamwork, and are encouraging members to workout at the station.

Already, the department has seen progress. “Many of our members have made a bigger commitment to either getting healthier or helping others get healthy,” said David Evans. This includes one firefighter who offered to teach martial arts to members, and another who is working on introducing cross-fit to the department. “I think many of us have made a conscious effort to be more healthy,” Evans said.

North Lyon County Fire Protection District (Fernley, NV)

The North Lyon County Fire Protection District is a combination department with 25 members in Fernley, NV. During the 2014 Safety and Health Week, the department focused on collaborating with all area first responders – fire, EMS, law enforcement, and dispatchers – to work together in training that will make the call more efficient as well as safer for the health and well-being of the entire team.

Throughout Safety and Health Week, North Lyon County Fire Protection District held a series of health and safety workshops from 6-7:30pm. Topics included local medical hazards, self defense tactics, and biomechanics of the body. The week ended with an open house barbecue for the community that focused on wildland fire preparation and prevention. The open house and outreach to the community was partially funded through a SAFER grant.

The collaboration does not end with Safety and Health Week. The department will continue to promote wellness programs and training with neighboring agencies throughout the year, as well as encourage participation in professional development at all levels and topics. In addition, the department provides free training in the community, such as CPR courses, to help citizens be more prepared in the case of an emergency.