Chief's Corner: EMS Week 2014 – Dedicated. For Life.

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U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell urges EMS providers to take every opportunity available to improve your health, wellness and safety – starting with an annual physical.

Posted on May 15, 2014 by U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is committed to providing system- and management- level educational opportunities for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

We fully support this year’s EMS Week (May 18-24) theme – “EMS: Dedicated. For Life.” Firefighter health and safety is a key focus for USFA in 2014. USFA’s firefighter fatality reports show that heart attacks and strokes are the leading cause of on-duty deaths at rates exceeding 40 percent. We have to concentrate our efforts on reducing this statistic. Through early detection, these underlying medical conditions are treatable.

“EMS: Dedicated. For Life.” begins with a personal commitment and dedication for your own health and safety. Get an annual comprehensive medical exam. We urge you to take every opportunity available to improve your health, wellness and safety. As leaders in the fire service, we have an obligation to take personal responsibility for doing what is necessary to improve firefighter health and safety. It is important that leaders assess their local situation and take appropriate action. I believe the future of the profession depends on it!

The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Safety, Health and Survival Section developed a position supporting annual medical exams for the fire service and conducted the first Annual Summit on Firefighter Physicals in March 2014. Both of these efforts underscore the importance of firefighter and EMS responder physicals.

For more information, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582 Standard on Occupational Medical Programs for Fire Departments (2013 Edition) provides information and guidance on this topic.

USFA recognizes the critical importance of EMS provided by fire departments and other agencies and is dedicated to meeting your needs. I encourage you to visit the EMS section of USFA’s website to obtain information on our training and research efforts that contribute to effective and safe EMS operations.

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