Since the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program began in 2003, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has been providing health, safety, and wellness resources and information to help keep first responders ready for the next call. The Program is excited to report that 2010 was another successful year: the health fair traveled to six states, the Program launched a new smoking cessation web site, the fourth annual National Firefighter Health Week reached more departments than ever before, and much more.
- Trade Shows - From March-August, the NVFC took its interactive Heart-Healthy Firefighter trade show booth coast to coast, participating in trade shows and fire schools in California, Wisconsin, Nebraska, New York, Maryland, and North Carolina. Through the Health Fair, hundreds of first responders received free cholesterol screenings, received resources and tools from all of the NVFC’s programs, and participated in the Wii fitness challenge.
- Speaking Engagements – NVFC board members and staff visited trade shows, fire schools, and other organizations to educate local fire service leaders on the NVFC’s health and safety initiatives. Representatives traveled to:
- Nebraska State Fire School (Grand Island, NE)
- National Fire Academy (Emmitsburg, MD)
- Wisconsin State Firefighters’ Association Convention (Stevens Point, WI)
- New York State Association of Fire Chiefs Conference and Expo (Verona, NY)
- North Carolina State Firemen’s Association Conference (Raleigh, NC)
- Health and Wellness Advocate Workshops – The Health and Wellness Advocate Workshops help combat the leading cause of line-of-duty firefighter deaths - heart disease - by creating health and fitness advocates within fire/EMS departments. Participants learn basic principles behind developing a sound health and fitness program and how they can become advocates for health and wellness within their department. Six workshops were held in 2010, in conjunction with state and national trade shows.
- Webinars - The NVFC developed a series of webinars as part of its continuing effort to use new media to connect with first responders. The five webinars focus on functional exercise, heart-health, nutrition, program design, and smoking cessation.
- Health and Safety Priorities – In 2009, the NVFC’s Health and Safety Committee developed the Volunteer Firefighter Health and Safety Priorities, categorized into a series of B.E.S.T. practices, to guide departments on key issues that will keep department members safe and eliminate cases of preventable injury and death. These B.E.S.T. practices received national recognition in 2010 when the NVFC was named one of three recipients of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award for developing and promoting the Priorities. In addition, the Health and Safety Priorities were featured in state and national emergency service media throughout the year.
- Put It Out – The NVFC launched a new web site to help first responders quit smoking and stay quit. The Put It Out campaign, made possible by funding through Pfizer, provides tools and resources for firefighters and emergency personnel who are ready to take the steps to stop smoking and lead a healthier, smoke-free lifestyle.
- National Firefighter Health Week – This year, the fourth annual National Firefighter Health Week asked first responders to take personal responsibility for their health and wellness and take the steps necessary to keep their heart, mind, and body strong. Each day of National Firefighter Health Week was dedicated to a different health issue of particular concern to emergency service personnel: behavioral health, personal protective equipment, heart-health, cancer, and fitness and nutrition. Thanks to the support of Ashburn Hill Corp., every department in the United States received a copy of a special health-week edition of The Pulse printed newsletter.
The NVFC has more in store for 2011, including eight trade show booths with cholesterol screenings, eight Health and Wellness Advocate Workshops, speaking engagements, new resources, and five sessions of the new behavioral health workshop. Stay tuned to the Heart-Healthy Firefighter web site for dates and locations. Learn more about all of the NVFC’s health and safety initiatives at www.nvfc.org/health_safety. Thank you for your support and participation in 2010, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011!