Health & Safety

Mayday Monday: Heart Awareness Month

Get your heart checked

By Tony Carroll

February is American Heart Month. This month’s Mayday Monday will focus on heart health. The staff here at Mayday Monday’s was recently introduced to an awesome organization that is dedicated to the heart health of firefighters! Food On The Stove is a D.C.-based organization that “promotes safe and heart-healthy eating habits to improve the food on firefighter’s stoves and, ultimately, protect their quality of life.” Please check them out at Food On The Stove and read their Letter to the Fire Service.

Why is this important? Well, according to the IAFC, “cardiovascular events are the leading cause of on duty deaths among firefighters and, for every line of duty death, there are an estimated 17 non-fatal cardiac events on duty among firefighters.” This is serious! Bill Carey, of FirefighterNation/FireRescue Magazine, reported 86 firefighter deaths in 2018. Of those, 59 were cardiac related.

RELATED: Surviving the Fire Service Cardiac Epidemic

Need more? According to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, “Firefighters who died from cardiac arrest were much more likely than those who died of other causes to show signs of both atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease at autopsy.” What does that mean? These firefighters who died in the line of duty had underlying cardiovascular disease! This underlying cardiovascular disease may have been detected during a health screening.

What’s the answer? GET CHECKED! That is this month’s Mayday Monday Firefighter Survival skill/drill…schedule a physical. Schedule a screening! Your heart is pretty important and being a firefighter demands a lot from your cardiovascular system. Make sure it is up for the demands!!

Finally, because Firefighter Survival Starts with the Basics…included in this month’s Mayday Monday edition is the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7. These are seven simple steps anyone can take to improve their well-being and health. Please take a look. Thanks for taking in this month’s Mayday Monday. Remember to send in your pictures of you and your crew performing the drill/skill or in the waiting room at your doctor’s office before your physical! Sent to [email protected]. See you next month!

Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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