Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD

 

PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop very soon after or even days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear. PTSD is commonly associated with the trauma suffered after serious injury to oneself or another, another’s death, or witnessing traumatic events.

 

A new study reveals that 90% of firefighters are living and working with PTSD. The study, conducted by Dr. Marc Lougassi, himself a firefighter, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, found 90% of their professional firefighters showed full or partial symptoms of the mental health condition. Dr Lougassi explains: “Professional firefighters are frequently exposed to extreme stress during their work in emergency situations. In addition to the physical challenges of firefighting they must evacuate burned and injured victims or bodies. Their involvement in traumatic events exposes them not only to the pressures stemming from the traumatic event itself, but also to post-traumatic emotional expressions that result in secondary traumatization. As far as Israeli firefighters are concerned, there has been no documented evidence of PTSD prevalence, despite the fact that they are exposed to everyday Fire and EMS events, but the additional trauma such as war and terror strikes.”

 

Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms of PTSD can be quite extensive, but will fall into one of three categories: intrusive memories, avoidance or emotional numbing and anxiety and increased emotional arousal.

Intrusive memory symptoms include reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares.

The second group is avoidance or emotional numbing. These symptoms are exhibited when the individual consciously avoids trying to think or talk about the event, discontinues activities/hobbies that were previously enjoyed, easily forgets things, has trouble concentrating and cannot maintain a close relationship with others.

Anxiety and increased emotional arousal symptoms involve the person being highly irritable, displaying outbursts of anger or other self-destructive behavior, suffering insomnia and hearing or seeing things that are not present.

All of these symptoms of PTSD can come and go, but can be triggered by any reminders of the stressful event that the person experienced.

There are three main types of symptoms (From Helpguide.org) and they can arise suddenly, gradually, or come and go over time:

  1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event. This may include upsetting memories, flashbacks, and nightmares, as well as feelings of distress or intense physical reactions when reminded of the event (sweating, pounding heart, nausea, for example).
  2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma. You may try to avoid activities, places or thoughts that remind you of the trauma or be unable to remember important aspects of the event. You may feel detached from others and emotionally numb, or lose interest in activities and life in general, sensing only a limited future for oneself.
  3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal. These symptoms include trouble sleeping, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, feeling jumpy and easily startled, and hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”).

 

Other common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Physical aches and pains

Professional treatment for PTSD relieves symptoms by helping you deal with the trauma you’ve experienced. Rather than avoiding the trauma and any reminder of it, a doctor or therapist will encourage you to recall and process the emotions you felt during the original event in order to reduce the powerful hold the memory has on your life.

 

You will also:

  • Explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma
  • Work through feelings of guilt, self-blame, and mistrust
  • Learn how to cope with and control intrusive memories
  • Address problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships

 

Normally the articles I write are from a lot of experience and opinions from those experiences. This article is different because I cited some expert opinions on PTSD, something that I am not. I do believe I suffer from, as Dr. Marc Lougassi would say, partial symptoms of PTSD. For the most part they aren’t serious. There are three or four other firefighters and myself who have breakfast three times a week and there we re-hash a lot of calls we have had and how they made us feel. I believe that helps all of us a lot. I cannot, however, imagine how someone with full PTSD symptoms feels or what they go through day and night. To believe that firefighters and ems providers are unaffected by what they encounter every day is like believing someone can walk thru water without getting wet.

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So when someone comes to you as their leader with a problem they are having, don’t let the first thing you say be “I know how you feel,” because you don’t. After that, I only hear about 10% of what the other person has to say. Just listen to what they have to say. Offer the appropriate avenues for help if you have them. And if your department or city doesn’t, then start the process of creating a pathway for these personnel to follow to get help.

 

I don’t know how those with full PTSD feel. I only know it is real – and fire departments and cities across the country need to start rethinking what can actually injure our firefighters, physically and mentally.

There is hope. Recently Winnipeg announced new legislation that will make it easier for emergency personnel with potential for PTSD to get help faster. Ontario has passed legislation that will create a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work-related, leading to faster access to resources and treatment. Unfortunately it is slow in coming to the United States, but we are getting there.

I put my heart and soul into my work and have lost my mind in the process. – Van Gogh

 

Stay Safe – Everyone Goes home

 

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So there has been a lot of different opinions coming out about saunas and the fire service. Many of these opinions can be very compelling on both sides of the argument. Now, I am no expert by any means, but my travels for our organization and interacts with fellow firefighters, experts, and others brings me to write this article. The IAFF felt so compelled about the issue they issued a statement about the use of saunas for detoxification after an fire incident. Now after reading this statement and talking to several firefighters from the US and abroad, it got me to think about the issue more and more.

In my opinion, there really isn’t enough focused research to make a decisive conclusion. So article over right? Well now, just wait one minute here. I think there can be a case still be made for the use of saunas in the firehouse. There are so many department who have already committed to the sauna in the firehouse and I’ve even heard of a station here in Ohio that had it built in when they designed a new station. So should we rip these saunas out and throw them out? I don’t think that should be the case.

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Now think of the properties of a sauna, are there any contraindications for it’s general use? Even in the statement from the IAFF, they readily admit there really is no contraindications or potential life threatening reason to not sure a sauna, unless your drunk. Which I would sincerely hope we aren’t at the firehouse drunk after a fire incident. So what is the worst that can happen? You become dehydrated? I know the statement advised it can cause heat stress and be adverse to those with a heart condition, but really I would hope yearly physicals would find those with heart conditions that would be adversely effected by sauna use.

So here is my opinion on the picture as a whole. The adverse effects of sauna use really can be solved by drinking water and not exercising in the sauna, and by the way even the companies who sell these saunas advice against preforming exercise in the sauna during use. So we really shouldn’t be doing that anyways. The benefits of a sauna in mental health has been pretty well documented. Which God knows we could use any help we can get in the realm. And as for the cancer issue, it’s not going to hurt you. I think that if there is a .001% chance that the sauna is going to help remove toxins from our skin, don’t you think you’d rather take that precaution than not? My advice, lets allow the major players in the occupational cancer realm do some more research and if we find otherwise continue to use the sauna. Who couldn’t use a little break and relaxation while at the firehouse? But I seriously doubt we will find any evidence that says it’s going to harm us and I really think it is only something we can benefit from. So what’s the real downside to having a sauna in the firehouse?

As always, stay safe out there and take care of one another. We are and always will be each other’s keepers.

So I have really never considered I have had PTSD, but some of the symptoms have been coming more evident as the years go by. I had started to notice I was a different person that what I can remember of myself before the start in public safety. I have always been a champion of mental health services, but have never really taken advantage of them myself. That all changed this week.

As my fiance and I go through pre-marriage counselling, I noticed our counselor had several books on EMDR. For those who aren’t familiar, EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. I had heard of it through a chance meeting of another firefighter in Upstate New York.

I met Scott Geiselhart, a firefighter from Minnesota, was the Keynote Speaker for the New York State Fire Chief’s Association Conference. He spoke to us about who and what we do. He explained his story and how EMDR changed his life. At the moment, I didn’t really think about it at the time.

So as my fiance and I were sitting in the counselor’s office, I asked him about his EMDR books. He went on to explain how EMDR works and the studies on the benefits. I then proceed to explain some of my symptoms I have noticed and my fiance have noticed. Our counsel thought it would be pretty beneficial to try the EMDR treatment.

So, this week I started my first EMDR treatment. It was quite an experience and I really was nervous on how this was going to work. So we started out talking about what I wanted to get out of our therapy. I said I’d like to become less stressed and anxious would be nice. We then start to talk about some of the calls and incidents that had left a lasting image in my mind. We finally start to narrow down what we would work on during this first session. One incident that had left a heavy burden on my mind was a suicide we had when a juvenile shot himself in the head with a large caliber rifle. I will spare you the details, since this article really isn’t about the war stories. I go on to explain how the incident made me feel about and how I felt about myself afterwards.

My counselor makes some notes and we take a break as he gets the EMDR light bar set up. So, the way this treatment works is you are placed in front of a light bar that goes back and forth while listening to an audio que. The goal is to just follow the light with your eyes and that movement helps bring the brain into a RIM sleep like cycle. During RIM sleep your brain is able to process and file memories, so this treatment help process previously unprocessed memories. Now I will say that this treatment doesn’t make the incident go away, but puts you in peace of what happened.

So my treatment starts, my counselor reads me a statement “I feel like I have no compassion for others and I am cold to others”. I head to rate the statement on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 was untrue and 10 was true. To be honest, as I started to bring up these memories, I really felt like that was 100% true. He marks down the score and he starts the light bar. I can remember thinking, “Is this going to work” and “Am I doing this right”?

As I continue my treatment, after a few minute my counselor asks me what I am feeling in a couple words. As I give him my responses, he writes them down. Then he asks the previous statement and want me to re-rate it. This go around, I feel better and rate it a 6-7. We continue on and as we continue a sense of clam comes across me. I feel more relaxed and at peace with the feeling I had with the incident. 

The he asks a final time fro me to re-rate the previous statement, and to be truthfully honest I felt it wasn’t as true as I felt in the beginning of the session. I felt better about the whole incident. I did have other memories come up, but I really felt much better about how this incident went and there was a relief from what had been bothering me. I can’t say that this has cured all my PTSD symptoms, but it has definitely helped.

I can say this about PTSD, don’t think that you are alone in this. Just because you only have a few symptoms doesn’t mean you have to fight this alone. I encourage anyone who is having problems to seek help. It’s ok to not be ok. Reach out to someone especially if you feel like hurting yourself. We are all in this together and we are each other’s keepers. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone close to you or anyone, even me. I hope that if you read this you found it interesting or helpful. I will continue to update as my treatment continues. Until then, take care of yourself and your fellow brothers/sisters. We don’t want to lose you or anyone else to suicide.

My PTSD Journey - Part 2

So I have to be honest with you, I’ve had thoughts of suicide. Now, I haven’t talked much about because I was embarrassed about it, frankly. Now this hasn’t been all the time and it usually comes up when I haven’t had the best sleep or during points of boredom.

So, as many of you who have read my previous article, My PTSD Journey, I have been undergoing EMDR treatment. I have had my second session a couple of weeks ago and it definitely brought up some different emotions than the first session I had. We spoke mainly about the loss of friends and co-workers I have had during my adult life. These losses in my life had definitely some impact on my life. 

Obviously this organization came from one of these losses and helps me cope with that loss, but there had been some unresolved feelings from theses losses.

Now, I don’t think I have that many PTSD symptoms as many others face and my results aren’t typical, but I can’t believe how well these treatments have helped me. I am proud to say that I haven’t had a suicidal thought since my last treatment. I mean, I can’t even conceive one which I personally think is great! 

I cannot recommend EMDR treatment for any first responder having symptoms of PTSD any more! This has truly been monumental in my life and changed my life for the better. I will say this about EMDR, others who I know who have tried the treatment haven’t had the quick success I have had, but keep with the treatment! I really believe it is worth staying with it and trying to process those unprocessed thoughts.

If you feel that maybe you’re in too deep or need someone to talk with, don’t hesitate to reach out. Reach out to the first responder help line, your family, heck even me! Don’t think that suicide is the only way out, it isn’t! There are many way to get help and deal with these thoughts.

As always, stay safe out there and take care of one another. We are each other’s keepers.

This week I was given the privilege of observing The Fire Asylum’s Masters of Mayhem training program. The Fire Asylum is the brain child of Marty Mayes, a retired veteran police officer and firefighter from Texas. I have known Marty for quite sometime and this training program has been building for many years before this moment in time. This was Marty’s second class being ran at the former West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia. The students brought to this class did not know one another and were essentially six strangers.

 

The prison itself is a daunting structure and really foreshadows what each student is in for during the training. At the beginning of the day of training each student lines up at the front entrance of the prison. Each student is brought into the prison, just as the inmates were when this prison started. The Moundsville State Penitentiary had one of two revolving entrances in the world, and each student goes though this process when they start their day. The students are lead to the cells of the maximum security wing of the prison, the North Hall Block, where they are put into the very location that some of the most notorious prisoners of this penitentiary stayed.

The students are given the expectations of the program and given their uniform shirt for the 25 hour training they are about to endure. Yes, you read right. This training is 25 hours long. The students will train for 25 hours in a row with a few breaks thrown in, but we will get back to this part of the program soon. The students are led to a classroom where they are introduced to their instructors and go over the objectives of the training.

Students are lead back to the lock down recreation yard in the prison complex and introduced to the “Grinder”.  The Grinder is where the students are going to spend a good part of their day. The Grinder is a make shift Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) confidence course designed to stress the students and bring them to a point of exhaustion. Students will go through the Grinder over and over again, until they have mastered the skills in the Grinder. This part of the training goes well into the night. The students are tired, but morale is good.

As someone who has never seen or experienced this type of training before, it was amazing to see how the students bonded with one another fairly quickly. These relative strangers had become a cohesive unit working together for a unified goal. It was very inspiring to see these students come to this point in their training.

The students were taken to the second floor of the prison and introduced to the “Snowcone”. The Snowcone is a three level SCBA confidence course, similar to the Grinder, but this is all enclosed and in almost complete darkness. The Snowcone only has one way in and one way out. This is where the students will be put to the test and will find enlightenment.

As I started to observe the students go one by one into the Snowcone, emotions started to bubble up from the students. Some of the students thrived in the Snowcone and some needed encouragement to complete the tasks. It was powerful each instructor of the program took the time necessary to encourage the students to discover their shortcomings and discover new skills sets to complete the tasks before them. It was powerful to see the interactions between the instructors and students. I personally have never seen this type of instruction given to students. If one had a particular problem within the Snowcone, the instructor would go right in with them to help guide them past what was holding them back.

I recall a particular incident where a student left the Snowcone complaining of chest pain. After a medical evaluation, one of the instructors sat down one on one with the student to help guide him to the root of the issue.  The student was then allowed to return to the Snowcone, but this time the prop was surrounded by all the instructors. The instructors ensured that the student was able to successfully complete the drill without complications. This indeed happened and the student learned from his incident. The student grew and became more mentally resilient.

The second incident that I observed during the training was a student who found the limits of his body. The student had just exited the Snowcone and was visibly overwhelmed. The instructors brought him to the side and started to medically evaluate him. The student had reached a point of complete exhaustion and was sidelined for the time being until he could be rehabbed. Unfortunately, the student had reached his physical limit and wasn’t able to complete anymore drills, but once he started to feel better you could perceive it was bothered him to not be with the crew. It really showed how much this group had bonded with one another. Eventually he did return to observe his fellow students. It was a true inspiration to see his dedication to the group effort.

As the night progressed, each student learned more about themselves from each drill. They may not have been able to receive these enlightenments without this high-stress training. For me it was a humbling experience to observe this group of relative strangers grow and become a strong unit of brother firefighters. I was truly blown away with the skill, patience, and love the instructors had for this group of students and truly the fire service as a whole. Even though I didn’t participate in the training, I too couldn’t help to feel bonded with these students and instructors. I consider myself truly lucky to be able to observe this training and hope to take it myself at the next offering.

Before I finish this article, I wanted to highlight the most inspiring story of this experience. One of the students I met during this experience was Matt Wander. Matt is an Army Veteran and has worked in the fire service for several years. He was someone who latched on the The Fire Asylum’s mission from the first time he saw it.

In 2013, after serving our country and becoming a firefighter and paramedic, Matt had started to get sick. Matt was found to have a tumor in his abdominal region. In December of 2013, Matt started his chemotherapy treatment, but had to discontinue. Matt was given a medication alternative. In the beginning of 2014, Matt was hospitalized and given one to four weeks to live. After four weeks had passed, Matt was still alive and given another month to live. Matt surpassed that expectation as well and was given a few more months to live. Then, it seemed as if he was beating the odds. However, it was discovered Matt’s cancer had become inoperable and terminal.

Matt reached out to Marty and told him his story that he had always wanted to take the Masters of Mayhem class. Marty obviously found this story heart wrenching, and he felt the need to give Matt his wish. Marty was able to raise the funds to bring Matt and his caregiver girlfriend Emily to Moundsville.

Matt was allowed to participate in the training as he felt up to it. He was monitored the whole time by Marty and Emily, making sure he didn’t over commit himself. Obviously, watching Matt go through the Grinder and participate in other activities in the training was a true inspiration to not only myself, but also to the other students and the instructors.

Matt was able to give it his all during his time in The Fire Asylum, and it was truly amazing to meet him and see him operate on the training grounds. Matt is what firefighting is all about. Despite what is going on with him, he left it behind to accomplish the task at hand. Many can learn from Matt’s example, and it was truly a gift to be able to meet him. I hope Matt is able to defy the odds again and beats his cancer to live a long and healthy life. I am truly honored to call him a friend and brother.

As I conclude this article, I can’t talk more highly of this experience and hope that as you read this it ignites something with you. I cannot recommend this class more highly for any firefighter at any level of their career. If you wants to learn more about yourself or learn your limitations, this is the class for you. The Fire Asylum is a safe place where a firefighter can go to learn about themselves without fear of being chastised or belittled. As Marty says, The Fire Asylum is an asylum for a firefighter to discover him or herself. If you truly are interested in becoming a better firefighter, then you need to enroll in this class. You won’t regret it! I have included links to The Fire Asylum website and Facebook page. Dip your toe into the asylum and see if you can’t find what you are seeking. It’s worth the time and consideration.

The Fire Asylum Website

The Fire Asylum Facebook Page

Pictured above: Brian Benedict with Connersville, Indiana Police Department Officer Dax Gunder


If it was’t for Police and Fire Insurance I’m not sure I would’ve ever met Dax and his family. Although I did see him at a few of my music gigs but that’s another story. I can remember getting to know him and the other officers as I filled out claims and visited second and third shifts. With a little more time under his belt Dax is now protecting the citizens of Connersville on first shift.

With a limited amount of officers, Connersville Police is facing similar scenarios as many others throughout the united states. A lack of morals, conscience and respect is making it more and more difficult and dangerous for these guys to keep us safe. But like many officers around the country Dax has a vision.

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He’s currently getting his MBA and is focused on the future. With all the challenges they’re faced with it’s important to remember that the greatest asset is you. It’s your mind. Staying focused. Creating a future goal and going for it.

Hope is a powerful tool to forward progress and attitude. If you feel stuck, if you feel down and depressed with your current situation you can change it by establishing a goal.

After establishing your goal don’t forget to write it down. If its only in your mind you’re more likely to stop doing what it takes to get there.

Thanks to Dax and all of the other officers within the Connersville Police Department. I’ve made great friends and lasting relationships. Be safe brothers. Call me if you need me.

Your friend

Brian

BrianBenedict.com

As firefighters, how do we take care and prepare ourselves to operate efficiently? We are all constantly working towards bettering ourselves through training, education, working out, and nutrition. The leading cause of firefighter deaths the past few decades has been linked to cardiac issues. Across the country there are a variety of different ways that brothers and sisters strive to better themselves and their bodies. Firefighting is an extremely physical filed that heavily relies on the abilities of a one’s physique.

Some departments have the capabilities to offer their members a full gym that may reflect a high school’s athletic program. This kind of facility may include treadmills, stationary spinning machines, various cable machines, advanced pressing machines, and free weights. Besides actually going to a gym this kind of facility allows members to conduct a variety of various workouts that will benefit themselves and in turn benefit the department while operating. Many of these departments have a few members that are certified fitness trainings that may assist the rest of the department with developing a workout regiment that will benefit everyone.

NJ gym

There are also departments that have gone on their own to develop their own gyms such as in Branchville, Maryland (PGFD Volunteer Station 811). The membership took one of the small bays in the apparatus garage and reconfigured it with just enough gym equipment to allow members to workout while still staffing the firehouse. Some of the equipment may include some cardio equipment, a bench-press, and miscellaneous free weights. This kind of set allow for members to training using weights while depending more on the body weight style exercises.

PG Gym

Then there are those departments that cannot afford to or do not have the resources to establish a gym within their firehouse. Some of the members of such departments take it upon themselves to workout in order to better themselves. They use whatever they can find around the firehouse including old tires from the rigs, ladders off the rigs, and even the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that we use everyday. The rig itself may be used to assist with workouts. One workout endorsed by Pip of 555 Fitness is to use the back bumper as a box for step-ups and box jumps. Using the equipment in place of actual free weights allows you to do similar workouts such as the Turkish stand up exercise with the SCBA instead of a kettle bell. Small town departments may also have the possibilities of reaching out to the local high school or college and set up an assistance program to allow their members to workout that the gym on campus.

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Paramount

You can always go out on your own and seek professional training at a facility such as LA Fitness, Retro Fitness, or a private trainer. Paramount Fitness founder and owner, Rob Kehoe, developed a daily workout that may be done anytime and anywhere (trainwithparamount.com). Paramount Fitness has one of the leading programs for developing student athletes from the high school level to the collegiate level and beyond. The workout consists of:

  • Iso pushups – 10 reps with 3 second iso each rep
  • Side plank 30-90 seconds each side
  • Single leg squats 10 reps each leg, while standing on the left leg reach down with the right and vice versa
  • Towel/Grip pull-ups 8-12 reps. If unable to do pull-ups,  jump up and slowly descend down for a slow 5-8 second count for 3 reps
  • Squat jumps bodyweight 10 reps maintaining good posture with the shoulders pinched back as you decelerate into each squat.
  • Up and down scissor kicks 30 seconds
  • Bicycles 30 seconds
  • Up-kicks 30 seconds

555555 Fitness has a grant program available to all branches of first responders including police, fire, and ems departments that are seeking assistance in establishing a gym. 555 Fitness annually awards three departments the equipment including Brute Force Sandbags, Kettle bells from Kettlebells USA, an Assault Bike, and a squat/ pull-up bar. The nonprofit foundation is self funded and works towards helping to save the lives of the people we depend on when we need help. The foundation will also assist with partnering up with your local gym to help fundraise in order to purchase this kind of life saving equipment. This program supports the first responders in the community by doing fitness with likeminded people. Recently the Mount Laurel Fire Department teamed up with Crossfit Mount Laurel and hosted a team workout that lead to enough being raised to receive the assault bike, kettle bells, and sand bags. The foundation will supply you and your department with literally everything including daily workouts posted on their social media pages The only element not provided is your self-motivation. “Train hard, Do Work” (555 Fitness).

At the end of the day your fitness and performance potential is your responsibility. Whether you have a gym, go to a trainer, make your own gym, or go for a run, it’s all up to you. When you’re operating at an incident your physical and mental preparedness will allow you to operate more efficiently. Everyone has their own motivation and potential to succeed. Take the opportunity to better yourself to benefit yourself and your company. Its you versus you. Only you can seize the moment to be better prepared than you were yesterday.

Resources:

trainwithparamount.com

555fitness.com

flowandvent.com

You made it here. YOU are the one that has the knowledge in your firehouse or on your shift about physical fitness, diet, and how to make them work to benefit yourself as a better firefighter and to support a better lifestyle. You’ve noticed a few others taking interest in what you are doing every time you are getting work done in the gym or in the stalls when you’re flipping the tire. Maybe they have even come to you and asked general questions. So, what do you do?

The answer is simple, but how you go about it is tricky. YOU HELP A BROTHER OUT! He or she obviously has a peaked interest in bettering themselves physically, but their guard may be up due to the fact that you may be an intimidating individual or they may just be nervous to take that big step. How you interact with this next fitness phenom in your department will make or break their future.

  1. Start Slow. Don’t put them head first into a workout that is one of the most challenging for YOU. If it is challenging for you, it is guaranteed to either hit the off switch on their interest, or hurt them. Maybe a combination of the two, and we don’t want that. The best exercise to start training them on is always shoulders. The movements are simple, instruction is easy, it gives them a gauge of how much weight they can pick up, and they will feel it the day after. If you feel like doing a whole body HIIT type workout, take what you were going to do and just simplify the movements or lower the reps. Remember; THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO MENTOR.
  2. Be patient. This is always a challenge for us firefighters. We at Thin Line Fitness have seen it difficult at times when it comes to teaching workouts. But one thing we always remember is this simple statement; “You were there once before.” We weren’t born with physical

greatness or with the strength we have today. We were taught, we learned, we trained and we listened to those who knew what they were doing. This is your chance to give back what you have learned.

  1. Stay motivational. This is what will make or break the relationship not only with you and the other firefighter in the gym, but also the relationship between the gym and the firefighter. If you loose interest and start to think that they may be a “lost cause”, it will be seen by them. You will come off like a jackass, and you will loose the trust of the person who you have been working with. Keep them motivated, a “good job” or “you’ve got this” can go a very long way with those just starting off.

Remember this; whether or not you see yourself as a “fitness expert”, the fact that you DO work out consistently and eat healthy puts you on a level above many others in the fire department. You just as easily could say “screw it” and eat some donuts and pizza instead and not hit the gym five times a week. But you DO hit the gym five days a week. You put blood and

sweat into bettering your body for the challenges it will face in life.   And for that, you are looked at as the ambassador for change in your department. You should expect to be approached with questions, to be asked for help, or to even help develop a fitness program. You should welcome all of these with open arms and embrace them.

You should be ready and willing to HELP A BROTHER OUT.

Need tips or want advice? Want a workout plan for your department? Contact Thin Line Fitness today!

 

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The best, single exercise for firefighters has been a long debated subject among many in the fitness world. Not as bad as smooth bore and TFT nozzles, but close. Many trainers tell you body weight exercises, or calisthenics, while others proclaim certain weighted exercises are the most beneficial for our jobs. This has not only fueled debates among the fitness enthusiasts in the fire department, but also left the inexperienced among us thinking there are only a limited number of exercises we can use in our field to make them more functional and healthier firefighters. After years of research, testing, and experience, we came up with the following included in this article.

Push-ups, planks and pull-ups are the most simple calisthenics. When some hear these they think “Awesome workout”, and others think “Well I don’t think I can do many”. For the one’s who think they can’t do many, that’s

okay. It just means you need to start working more on these exercises. But why are they so good for being a firefighter? Because they don’t only work one muscle, but several. For example, a push-up works the chest, triceps, shoulders (or deltoids), abdominals, and your “wing” muscles- the serratus anterior. The reason they work so much is not only because you are holding a plank while in the “up” position, but also because you are putting these all at work by the pushing motion. And even more so when you add the challenge of putting your feet on a raised platform. This is why many say body weight exercises are best for responders.

Squats are a weighted, or non-weighted, exercise many also recommend for firefighters. This is because this exercise not only works out every muscle in your legs, which we all use for many of our most basic as well as challenging tasks. But it also works your entire core, from your abs through to your back. This is because you are working to keep the weight upright and stabilized. If the weight keeps dipping too low your back will quit on you and you will be at a high risk of injury. So you need to know what you are doing and practice good form. Once you are comfortable, though, the squat will be one of your favorite exercises.

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Deadlifts have been called “The King of Lifts” for a while. And it is for a good reason. They are also the authors personal favorite exercise. Deadlifts are a war between your body and the weight, and they challenge everything in your body from your feet to your fingertips, and especially your mind. Like the other exercises, trainers and fitness experts recommend this exercise for firefighters due to it being a true test of ones strength, but also the large amount of muscles trained during this exercise. But just like the squat and many other exercises, this one requires good form or you risk severe injury. Make sure you practice with little to no weight before you attempt heavy weight. But you may also soon find yourself loving this exercise.

Sandbag exercises have become increasingly popular with responders and military personnel. This is because they create an “uneven load” while lifting the sandbag, forcing your muscles to adjust to the shift in weight. And these are perfect for what we do, because how often is something we lift perfectly and evenly loaded when we lift it? I can honestly say in my time as a firefighter; never. These fall into their own category due to how unique they are. It’s a part body weight exercise due to the stabilization you need to perform many of the exercises, and part weighted exercise.

By now you’re probably saying to yourself, “okay, you’ve listed a bunch of different exercises that are good for us, but you haven’t told us what THE BEST one is yet.” So here it is; The best exercise for firefighters….is exercise. There is no single best exercise or lift for what we do. We are firefighters, we have more than one way for doing EVERYTHING we do, and exercising our bodies should be no different. The fact that you are exercising and doing it consistently and making progress, is what the best exercises are for being a firefighter. You are bettering your mind, body and health, and that is what is best, especially in our field.

For more information on workout programs and exercising contact Thin Line Fitness.

ee6a2f79949398a0fb91b6314f5b24a1-atthebarWe’ve been there time and time again, it’s the night after shift or a night off and the group makes plans to go out to the favorite bar for drinks and food. But you’ve been doing good with your diet and have been getting gains in the gym, and are finally seeing the results you’ve been waiting for. You’re focused on a new and healthy lifestyle. So what do you do?

Going out and enjoying the company of the firefighters you work with is a definite must-do for not only your own morale, mind and happiness, but also your teams. You do everything with these guys. They’re your family. And you can still enjoy the bar with them. The following is how you can do it;

Liquor instead of beer: We all enjoy drinking the cold 16 ounce glass of beer, but when on a diet, that is a large amount of unnecessary carbs. And 4cc5f69cafef3c9cd6c466f67fc20495let’s face it, as firefighters we don’t have just one beer. Liquor, on the other hand, is much less calorie dense and in many cases has virtually no carbs. For example, Jameson has around 70 calories per shot and ZERO carbs. A pint of Guinness has 167 calories and 18 grams of carbs. Which isn’t much if you only have one. But if you have two or three more, or maybe a Guinness and a few Bud’s, you’re up to more than 500 calories and more than 60 grams of carbs. When it comes to your night out, the drink choice will make the difference. And sipping on a double can be a much better choice.

Food: What is your normal go-to at the bar? The usual answer is wings. It could be a Cherry2C+Pecan+26+Goat+Cheese+Salad+5burger or maybe pizza. Bars don’t usually have a large amount of healthy food. Shocking, I know. Fortunately, many bars are now serving more healthy options because they have noticed an increasing number of customers like yourself wanting healthier options while still trying to enjoy the night out with their friends. These include anything from salads (with or without a meat) to wraps. Again, it is the small choice of food that will make a big difference in your night out with your shift.

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With smart choices, you can easily save yourself hundreds of calories and still enjoy your nights out with your shift whenever the invitation comes down. You would never want one of your brothers to cancel a night out with you or your shift for a small reason that could be easily mitigated, so don’t do the same to them. Keep the tradition alive with your brothers. You being around during the good times is just as important as being around during the bad. Build the memories, and remember, a healthy and happy mind is just as important as a healthy body.

If you have questions or would like any help visit the Thin Line Fitness website

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