KSTP Features MnFIRE Executive Director Wayne Kewitsch

Wayne Kewitsch brings 25 years of experience in Minnesota’s fire service — and harrowing, first-hand understanding of the dangers firefighters face — to his new role helping firefighters across the state as MnFIRE’s first executive director. On Sunday, KSTP’s Eric Chaloux spoke with Kewitsch about his 20 years with the Richfield Fire Department, including the past nine as chief, and his goals for MnFIRE moving forward.

Kewitsch brings a dramatically unique perspective to the organization, after three recent life-threatening cardiac episodes. Cardiovascular disease is the top killer of firefighters nationwide and is by far the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service. Kewitsch is working to prevent health scares like his own from happening to any other firefighters.

Consequently, Kewitsch is leading MnFIRE’s efforts to provide all of Minnesota’s 20,000 firefighters with free health and wellness training to become “MnFIRE Aware” of their own occupational risks, thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Fire Service Advisory Committee. The training, taught by firefighters and other health experts, teaches firefighters how to protect themselves from the three most common problems experienced by firefighters: cardiac, emotional trauma and cancer, so they can continue to do their jobs and protect others.

“We want to make sure we take care of our firefighters while they take care of the community,” says Kewitsch.

Thanks to Eric Chaloux for highlighting this critical work. Watch the full interview here.

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On behalf of MnFIRE and HealthPartners, Chief Resident Physician of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Dominic Dabrowski presented insights about our Critical Illness Program at the 2024 International Firefighter Cancer Symposium in Miami.

The significant number of cancer claims we see suggest the ongoing need for this benefit for Minnesota firefighters, and for more research to better understand the challenging epidemiology of firefighters and cancer.

Thanks to the Firefighter Cancer Initiative for hosting this important event!

#ifcs2024 #ExtinguishCancer
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On behalf of MnFIRE and HealthPartners, Chief Resident Physician of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Dominic Dabrowski presented insights about our Critical Illness Program at the 2024 International Firefighter Cancer Symposium in Miami.

The significant number of cancer claims we see suggest the ongoing need for this benefit for Minnesota firefighters, and for more research to better understand the challenging epidemiology of firefighters and cancer.

Thanks to the Firefighter Cancer Initiative for hosting this important event!

#ifcs2024 #ExtinguishCancerImage attachmentImage attachment

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Thank you for attending this year's IFCS and for sharing your important research with us! Let's stay connected!

It would be interesting to See data on retired firefighters, as the time following exposure might be longer.

Photos from Minnesota State Fire Department Association's post ... See MoreSee Less

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MnFIRE President George Esbensen spoke at the Midwest Business Group on Health's workforce mental health forum this week about the impact of the innovative mental health benefits available to Minnesota firefighters for free through the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program.

We're grateful to have these resources, and to take care of one another, in the face of all the stress and anxiety that comes with the fire service. Learn more at mnfireinitiative.com/hhap/#MAP.
... See MoreSee Less

MnFIRE President George Esbensen spoke at the Midwest Business Group on Healths workforce mental health forum this week about the impact of the innovative mental health benefits available to Minnesota firefighters for free through the Hometown Heroes Assistance Program. 

Were grateful to have these resources, and to take care of one another, in the face of all the stress and anxiety that comes with the fire service. Learn more at https://mnfireinitiative.com/hhap/#MAP.

Last week MnFIRE peer supporters and MnFIRE Assistance Program network providers came together for a Living Works SafeTalk workshop – a suicide prevention skills training – where they learned how to better recognize when someone might be thinking about suicide and how to keep them safe by promptly connecting them to further support.

We all can make a difference with suicide prevention, and learning the skills to reach in and have a conversation is a crucial step.

#suicideprevention #LivingWorks #PeerSupport
... See MoreSee Less

Last week MnFIRE peer supporters and MnFIRE Assistance Program network providers came together for a Living Works SafeTalk workshop – a suicide prevention skills training – where they learned how to better recognize when someone might be thinking about suicide and how to keep them safe by promptly connecting them to further support.

We all can make a difference with suicide prevention, and learning the skills to reach in and have a conversation is a crucial step.

#suicideprevention #LivingWorks #peersupport
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