Kevin Quinn, chair of the National Volunteer Fire Council, shares his personal experience about the vital importance of annual physical exams.
Fitness and nutrition have always been a priority to Kevin Quinn, chair of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the recently retired deputy fire chief of the Union Fire District in South Kingston, Rhode Island. He’s fit and active in his personal life, and consistently implemented those priority within his department. So when Quinn had his annual firefighter physical last August, he was pretty surprised to learn that he needed quadruple bypass surgery.
“The fire service saved my life,” said Quinn at a presentation at today’s health and safety forum, which focused on the health issues facing firefighters and the efforts underway to address them. Quinn says that by getting an annual medical exam and detecting his cardiac issues early, he was able to get the treatment he needed to be alive and healthy today.
Todd LeDuc, assistant chief of technical services at the Broward County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office, reinforced the extreme importance of annual physicals for firefighters, pinpointing the high level of physical fitness firefighters need to do their jobs safely. “Firefighters need to perform as high-performance, tactical athletes,” said LeDuc. More precisely, they need to perform at 12.6 “mets”. That means they need to be physically fit enough to run at 6.5 miles per hour at a 4.6 incline on a treadmill. In reality, studies show that firefighters are more obese than the rest of the population, with the average firefighter gaining three pounds per year.
Todd LeDuc, assistant chief of technical services at the Broward County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office, reinforced the extreme importance of annual physicals for firefighters.
LeDuc went on to address other risk factors firefighters face, including exposure to toxins and chemicals, and increased risk to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Firefighters have lots of stressors that they often struggle to cope with, which sets them up for excess risk,” said Le Duc, noting that rates of binge drinking are much higher among firefighters compared to the rest of the population.
In the end, both Quinn and LeDuc’s main message focused on the importance of firefighters doing all they can to stay healthy, with annual exams serving as a key way to identify health issues early and treat them effectively.