Experts consider firefighters to have the highest risk for heart disease, pulmonary disease and cancer of most any occupation. With the ever-increasing extreme physical requirements, high stress environments, and chaotic schedules fire departments must look towards new methods of prevention and intervention to protect the health and ensure the longevity of their most valuable assets…their volunteers and career staff employees.
That is why the West Grove Fire Company has made a significant investment in the early detection of heart disease and cancer as part of an overall health and wellness program for the company’s firefighters and EMTs. Throughout September, nearly 60 members and career staff were screened by a team of medical personnel through a three-hour battery of tests designed to provide personnel deep insight into their health and wellness. The program of medical exams was begun approximately nine years ago, and scans all personnel on an every-two-year basis. The 2020 program represents the third round for longer-term members and staff, and is budgeted at over $40,000.00
“At the WGFC, we pride ourselves in having a dedication to leading in equipment, safety and training, so extending that commitment to the health and wellness of our team was the right thing to do,” said Justin Gattorno, Fire Chief. “Given the known risks of cardiac disease and cancer among firefighters, we are determined to help our volunteers and staff know more about their health, and have access to early detection tests that assure they are safe and healthy for the long-term. This program is expensive, but given that the program has already helped some members discover previously-unknown health conditions, it is worth every penny.”
At West Grove, each provider has blood work taken at a local lab. On the day of the in-person health screening, each person goes through three stations: physical fitness that includes a resting EKG and cardiac stress-test; a comprehensive scan of most major body organs using ultra-sound (looking at kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, etc.) and urine analysis for prostate health; and a session that scans eye-sight, hearing and includes a discussion of wellness, good dietary practices and a review of overall test results.
The tests are provided by Life Scan Wellness Centers, the largest and most trusted provider nationally of annual public safety fit-for-duty and wellness exams, integrating a model of early detection and prevention. Life Scan Wellness Center’s Comprehensive NFPA 1582 integrated physicals with enhanced screening assessment for Cancer and Heart Diseases has a proven record with over 22 years of experience caring for over 40,000 first responders annually in 370 departments and 17 states.
At the WGFC, Life Scan’s program is set up at the company’s station in London Britain Township. Three medical professionals work out of the station over two and a half weeks to complete the tests. For more information on Life Scan, see: http://lifescanwellness.com/
Photo courtesy Life Scan.