This blog post is going to start off with a little self-assessment. When you get called out to a call, do you dread carrying someone down from the 3rd floor? Do you constantly break a sweat, to the point some of your partners may be inclined to put you on the cardiac monitor instead of your patient? Does your diet consist of anything that actually grows from the ground, and not some processed food plant in the middle of nowhere USA?
This was me at the end of last summer (2010). We would get called out to calls, that would require extrication assistance (stair chair, long board, scoop stretcher) and I found myself getting so winded after the carry that I would need to sit down in the ambulance before I could continue with my assessment and treatment. In addition to that, I would sweat…the need a towel kind of sweat.
It was embarrassing.
Around September I decided to take matters into my own hands. I will admit that I didn’t start trying to get in shape because of my job. It was because of the job that I wanted. I was looking to join Law Enforcement in some capacity, and as many of you out there know it requires a good amount of physical fitness to really succeed in that profession. Well, I went out and I tried. I did work outs at the gym, and I ran on the treadmill. I thought I was doing great. I was energetic, lost 10 pounds. Then it came time to actually go and test. 3 departments, 3 failed physical agility exams. At first, I was willing to accept that this was not my fate. I was not meant to work in Law Enforcement. It was a lazy way to avoid the harder task here, ACTUALLY getting in shape.
Finally, at the recommendation of many friends and coworkers. I started my initiation into the CrossFit world. I’ve only done one class so far, and it was the baseline workout to gauge how you are doing physically. Let’s just say it was a wake up call for me :).
I’m not on here to promote the CrossFit product, although I will personally recommend it. The reason I am here writing tonight is to talk about the overall picture of fitness. While I was doing some online research, I found an interesting article on the US National Library of Medicine, it was a study from the Carolina’s Medical Center: The Center for Prehospital Medicine, in Charlotte North Carolina. Let me give you some figures from the abstract:
- Survey’s were sent to 58,435 providers who recertified in 2007. 30,560 (52%) returned questionnaires. Individuals missing data were removed, leaving 19,960 individual records.
- 23.5% or 4,681 individuals who reported at least one existing health condition.
- The mean BMI for the study participants was 27.69 kg/m(2). A normal BMI is 18.5-24.9
- 75.3% or 15,022 individuals did not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions minimum standards for physical fitness.
- 3,394 classified themselves as current smokers.
Those are some alarming numbers! These are the best statistics published, that I could find in recent history. Let me put it to you this way, you know those frequent fliers that we all complain about. Yeah, you know…the ones with the HTN or the Hyperlipidemia, diabetes, 2 pack a day smokers, and the ones that also happen to be having the inferior wall myocardial infarction on your stretcher?
Based on these statistics, You are not any better than they are at taking care of yourself!!!
I am not here today to point fingers at anyone. Lord knows, I am not perfect (despite being a Paramedic). All I am asking you to do, as a responsible healthcare provider…is to take care of yourself first. It is a concept that we tend to forget about, usually it is overridden by our need to help people. Simply putting a few changes in our daily routine can make a huge difference. We are a tightly knit group in Public Safety, we get bent out of shape when one of our own dies. My question to you is, why are we not getting bent out of shape for something that will put you in the grave much sooner than a line of duty death?
Take this as food for thought, like I said I am not here to point fingers. Merely inspire a little motivation for a better you. I hope it helps, feel free to leave comments with your changes that you may have made to improve your overall health below. I look forward to reading them!
Stay safe my friends!