INNOVATIVE PROGRAM AIMS TO KEEP RESPONDERS SAFE
PART OF INTERNATIONAL FIRE/EMS SAFETY & HEALTH WEEK
- Date: June 18, 2013 PIO Number: 13-6-14
A unique program was introduced this week by Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue designed to educate firefighters on staying safe and healthy.
Many people are aware of the physical demands of firefighting. Few, however, may be aware of the effect on a first responder’s mental well-being from the stress of responding to life-and-death emergencies - like anxiety, burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder. Behavioral Health Peer Training was developed by Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue’s newly –created Division of Health, Wellness and Safety, in partnership with the Broward Sheriff’s Office Human Resources Bureau and doctoral students from the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Center for Psychological Studies. “Behavioral health is not only the focus of this week’s international health and safety week, it is an emerging health issue for the fire service,” Fire Chief Tony Stravino said. “Our partnership with NSU is meant to provide co-workers with the information and tools necessary to identify and access resources for behavioral health, before a crisis occurs. In short, we want to assure our firefighters are equipped to maintain good health to better serve our community.” The entire 700-person department will complete the first phase of the program by the end of June.
Nationally, the American fire service has made inroads reducing line-of-duty deaths through proactive initiatives and health and safety measures. Safety and wellness is critical to assuring firefighters are prepared for the rigorous conditions the job demands.
Other areas being addressed through BSFR’s Health, Wellness and Safety program include focusing on workplace safety, improving health and fitness aimed at reducing cardiovascular risks, which remain the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in our nation, and providing training aimed at enhancing awareness in preventing and limiting cancer risks to firefighters.
International Fire/EMS Safety & Health Week has evolved since its inception in 2005 as a one-day Safety Stand Down to raise awareness and reduce the number of line-of-duty deaths. Sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and National Volunteer Fire Council, the week-long initiative has focused on a variety of health issues facing firefighters, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer risks.
For more information, visit www.safetyandhealthweek.org.
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