Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Make It Work

As I write this, I am sitting outside the school in the car line waiting to pick my daughter up. I have just awaken from a brief sleep after working a 12 hours night shift in dispatch and 3 more nights coming up. My wife is in day 1 of technical rope rescue at the academy, the calendar keeps filling up, and its only Monday! Not complaining, there is a point.

My shift consist of 7-12 hour night shifts followed by 7 days off. My wife works 24/48 shift. Add in overtime shifts, training, and all the things we can't say no to, and time seems to fly, and this is just work related. Throw in the adult things we have to do at home like cutting the grass, laundry, dishes, cleaning, and all the fun stuff, there is no time. Now factor in our 6 year old, her school schedule and activities, t-ball practice and games, and her want to do list, and I am looking for a way to fabricate time! (I wouldn't trade it though)

I know everyone feels overwhelmed at times with the lack of time they have. I know everyone's time is valuable and you cram the most into whatever open time you can find, trying to accomplish all your goals and all the things everyone else wants and needs of you.

So the question is, how do we make it work? Best answer I have found is, we just do! We are firefighters, nothing we do is easy. We adapt to the situation and choose the right tactics to get the job done. The same goes for our personal lives as well. We shift and adjust things around to make things work for the good of ourselves and our families. We may miss a ball game here and there, show up late for dinner or family function, or put off cutting the grass until next week, just to get everything in and still function normally.(whatever normal is)

Time away from work is important, but not always easy to come by. Family is the most important thing, so do whatever it takes to make the time to spend with them even when it seems there is none. Making things work is what we do no matter what the situation.

Until next time, y'all be safe

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Get Fit, Make it Fun!

Good afternoon, welcome back to Hooligans and Halligans. We hope you all are doing well.

Every year firefighters die from cardiac related emergencies. Most of these deaths occur during or shortly after a fire or training event.  Heart Attack/Heart Disease is and has been the number one killer of firefighters since LODD’s started being recorded.

We all know a lot of this is due to the stress we are exposed to. The rush of adrenaline, going form 0 to 90 in only seconds and performing at full throttle in extreme conditions with no rest for extended periods of time. All of this is done while wearing an extra 65-100 pound of gear and equipment.

To add to this not every firefighter is in the best of health or shape. Although round is a shape it is a bad one for firefighters to be in. It is common among firefighters to not have good eating or fitness habits.  Another issue leading to bad health among firefighters is alcohol and tobacco use.

Now I am not a health and fitness coach and I am not in the shape I want to be in… yet. I am working on that. I have only been working my present job for 6 months. Before working for the fire department I worked for my local EMS agency. It was a really busy agency and we ate a lot of fast food, was not required to do fitness so I rarely ever did and it was a really stressful place to work. I was placed on medication for High Blood Pressure about 7 months ago, just right before leaving EMS.  Since I have been at the fire department I have lost a little weight, been able to stop taking my blood pressure medication and am getting in shape. I contribute this to being required to do fitness each shift. It goes further than that though.

Like I said, our department policy states that each shift we do an hour of some sort of PT. We have weights, tread mills, exercise bikes, etc. It was the same mundane workouts using the same muscle groups and movements. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. However that has changed within the last month. Our department came into some money through a donation and was able to afford to send 2 firefighters to become cross fit instructors and purchase a large amount of cross fit equipment.

Cross fit incorporates 10 aspects of fitness into one exercise. If you are not familiar with it you can research it at www.crossfit.com. Cross fit has made fitness fun. Not only is it helping us get into shape but also, it is building morale and camaraderie while allowing us to have a little healthy competition. The short burst of work at high intensity make you push yourself and your brother firefighters are there to push and motivate you as well. Along with cross fit workouts there are also some diets that are recommended to follow. These include eating lean cuts of meat, a lot of vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds. This allows you to cut out fast foods, processed foods, high sugary foods, etc. All the stuff that taste good but is bad for you haha. You can research paleo (caveman) diet, zone diet, and primal diet for more info on these. They can be hard to follow and my suggestion is to ease into he one that is best for you.

Cross fit workouts also use a lot of the movement we are required to do on the fire ground. I believe if we train for fitness using the parts of our body like we do on the fire scene, which is every single part we were made with, then we can reduce injury. Also maintaining a healthy level of diet and fitness will allow us to act faster, safer, better. Allow us to make better, clearer decisions, and be a better firefighter all the way around. We can work smarter not harder when we are fit for duty.

Whatever your department does or don’t do for fitness I would suggest you look into cross fit and give it a try. It will make fitness fun I promise. I also see cross fit becoming the main fitness program for the fire service as many fire departments have and are adopting it as their primary PT. A few places you can check out for more info and workouts are:

There are also a few pages on www.facebook.com including first in, last out, health and fitness. The Internet is endless so research it, apply it, and change your life for the better.

The main goal at the end of the day is for EVERYBODY TO GO HOME!!!!

Brothers and sisters, be safe!