Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do You Get It Now?

If you subscribe to any of the fire service news services, e.g., Fire Engineering, etc., the news hit us across the face this morning. The State of Wisconsin lost another firefighter to cancer. But not just any firefighter. Firefighter/Paramedic Marcia Rosecky was the first female firefighter in the State of Wisconsin. And her death has been judged as Line of Duty, due to the fact that her cancer was a direct result of her work and exposure during her firefighting service.

I might venture now, almost fifteen years after 9|11, many of us either know a firefighter who has contracted a line-of-duty cancer or know of someone who has. "Back in the day," in the relative short period of eight years I was active, we had virtually never heard the words, "firefighter" and "cancer" in the same sentence. And those of us who also were in EMS work had not yet heard the word, "AIDS," either. But we sure as shit know it now!

If you've had some significant time in the fire service, think back to some of the crap you've dealt with. Think of all the stuff on your PPE. Think of all the times you took your rehab break and went back inside to help with overhaul, no mask, no turnout coat. You're pulling those walls and ceilings and all the toxins and other shit that have been carbonized, start falling on top of you or is inhaled by you. What is it doing inside you right now? Ever bother to wonder?

Some of the best voices in the fire service today have called on all departments, career, volunteer, combo and on-call, to begin a prophylactic program to help shield firefighters from this type of exposure. Additionally, each of us has a responsibility to make sure all of our PPE is properly and thoroughly cleaned at regular intervals.

Today, March 3, 2016, we begin the third month of the first quarter of 2016. Many people are in the habit of making resolutions for the new year. Here we are, over two months in and what have you done to take better care of yourself?

Started an exercise regimen? ("Naw, I get enough exercise on the job!)
Started a weight loss program? (What? And give up the great food that we cook in the barn?)
Made an appointment with your personal physician or the fire surgeon for a physical or an evaluation of vitals and blood? ("I don't have time to go see a doctor. I got 2 jobs beside the 'Job, three kids and a wife!")

There are probably another half dozen or more questions we could and should ask ourselves. And most of us will have the same excuses to answer those questions, as well.

We're all slow to adapt to change. It's in our human make-up. But that doesn't mean we can't change. Take a look around you. See your buddies in the firehouse, see your family and other loved ones. What will you tell them if you're diagnosed with some form of job-related cancer? "I coulda, woulda, shouda?"

Think about it. Make the FFHI2016 (The Firefighters' Health Initiative 2016) a vital part of your life.

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