Much like at a fire scene when your plans have been made and resources gathered, it’s time to start taking action. Take the next step towards making health and wellness a priority within your department by acting on the plans you’ve made and goals you’ve set.
Activity ideas to get you started:
- Get the ball rolling by announcing new department sports teams and fitness clubs, then circulate or post sign-up sheets and schedules. Don’t forget to announce any neighboring departments also organizing teams in preparation to compete with yours.
- Have a meeting with your department to educate everyone on what to do if you think you or someone else is suffering from a heart attack. Knowing what to look for and how to react can decrease the risk of serious disabilities or death.
- Don’t rule out a plan because of cost until you have made multiple attempts to reach out to your community and find sponsors. Use the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program’s Sponsorship Toolkit to help you make all the right efforts in securing sponsors.
- Motivate your personnel by developing monthly health or fitness challenges where you can recognize or reward monthly winners in any number of ways. For example, provide monthly winners with a “Reserved for The Healthy First Responder of The Month” parking space, or simply recognize them at an upcoming meeting.
- Provide your department members with information showing them how to calculate the results of their efforts with tools like the Physical Activity Calorie Use Chart.
- Create a Fire Corps program for your department and have the group of volunteers organize and run health and fitness programs. Have them report members’ participation and activities to you.
- If you have a Fire Corps program or are planning on creating one, have them complete non-emergency tasks at the department in order to free up time for your members so they can focus on making improvements to their health and fitness.
- Encourage department personnel to participate in local fundraising walks and runs. Your members will help raise money for a good cause and become more active at the same time.
- Have your members log in to a meal-tracking site, such as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Menu Planner or SparkPeople.com. These sites allow you to enter what you eat and see what your total calories and fat are for the day. Having them report their weekly intake will get them into the habit of being conscious about what they eat – reward them for their improvement.
- Review with all members how to properly maintain, clean, and store each piece of PPE and remind them they need to follow these procedures every time. PPE is essential in keeping firefighters healthy and safe.
- Conduct an inspection of all of your station’s equipment and PPE to determine which items need to be replaced sooner rather than later. It may not be possible to upgrade everything right now, but make a plan for securing the most needed items now and develop a schedule for equipment that will need to be replaced in the future. Ensuring every piece of equipment and PPE is working effectively keeps you safer and healthier.
Tools and Resources:
Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
American Heart Association: Nutrition Center
North American Fire Fighter Veteran Network
NutritionData: Know What You Eat
Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Suggested Respirator Cleaning and Sanitation Procedures