Fire fighters put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and help us when we're in trouble. To do their jobs effectively, these men and women have to stay in top physical condition.
A new program, developed by the Jefferson Parish Fire Department and the Wellness Center, is designed to help the fire fighters help themselves. Called the Jefferson Parish East Bank Fire Department Wellness/Fitness Program, the initiative was designed to minimize illness and injury among firefighters.
"We realized a trend," says JPFD Public Information Officer George Rigamer. "There were too many preventable ailments and injuries."
Total fitness is important to a fire fighter because the job is not only physically demanding, but stressful as well. According to Rigamer, fire fighters are often required to transition quickly from low stress periods to critical and often dangerous situations. The Wellness Center was chosen to administer the program because its staff could offer not only strength training, but a complete fitness and wellness program.
The program starts with a comprehensive physical exam for every fire fighter. The exams include lab work and screening tests for a variety of health problems. Once they have passed the physical exam and received medical clearance to start the fitness program, a fitness test is administered to evaluate their current physical condition. Based on the test, each fire fighter is prescribed an individual exercise program designed to help him or her meet personal and professional goals. While the fire fighters aren't held to any specific benchmarks, the fitness test will be repeated annually to assess progress.
Health and Fitness
Each fire company will come to the Wellness Center at an assigned time. Together they'll work out for one hour each week. Allowing the fire fighters to exercise while they're on the clock means they can work out without sacrificing time with their families. They are, however, full Wellness Center members and can return to the center on their own time as they wish. Membership in the center is a part of the program and is offered at no cost to the fire fighters.
Workshops and Lectures
In addition to workouts, fire fighters can also take advantage of specialized educational programs on topics such as:
- Stress management
- Body mechanics
- Smoking cessation
The fire fighters aren't the only ones learning. In order to create the optimum in health benefits and resources for the JPFD, The Wellness Center staff is studying fire fighting to learn more about the physical and emotional demands of the job. This helps them customize individual exercise prescriptions to address not only the fire fighter's goals, but the specific demands of his or her job as well.
The aim of the program is to improve quality of life for the fire fighters, but the East Bank community will also benefit from the program.