There is a crisis in our fire service – more and more Minnesota firefighters are tragically losing their lives due to cancer, cardiac and emotional trauma issues.
Sadly, this crisis doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon – and with COVID-19, we can only expect it to get worse. Beyond the virus itself, we know COVID-19 is causing Americans to pursue less preventative care, that isolation is exacerbating mental health issues, and that the spike in unemployment means fewer Americans have employer-sponsored health insurance – and we can assume these will have ripple effects when it comes to the health of firefighters.
While the statistics may be grim, here’s the good news: knowing what to look for, methods of prevention, and living a healthy lifestyle, can make a big difference when it comes to your likelihood of experiencing the big three health issues (cancer, cardiac and emotional trauma) for firefighters.
The first step? Signing up to become more become “MnFIRE Aware” of your occupational health risks as soon as possible. Below is some info on MnFIRE’s free training offerings for your department:
MnFire Awareness Training
This training is ideal for departments who have not had previous MnFIRE trainings and is taught by firefighters and other health experts. Thanks to a grant from the Fire Service Advisory Committee (FSAC), this training is being offered both online and in-person at no cost to MN fire departments through June 30, 2021.
New! Deep Dive Sessions
These two-hour sessions are catered toward those who have already completed our MnFIRE Awareness Training and want further education on the different health risks facing firefighters. These trainings are available whenever it’s convenient for your department, either in-person or virtually. These classes are tailored to both department leadership, and firefighters themselves.
More than 68% of firefighters will develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes. This tragic reality underscores the critical need for more Minnesota firefighters to be aware of their higher risks for cancer – and what they can do to help prevent it. In our cancer deep-dive class, we’ll educate firefighters on activities that put them at higher risk for developing cancer, proper PPE strategies for mitigating cancer risks, and what types of screenings can be done to catch cancer early.
After just three hours of fighting fires, firefighters experience hardened arteries and impaired heart function. With that level of health risk, every firefighter deserves to be given the resources needed to protect their cardiovascular health. In this class, we’ll look at heightened risk factors, the types of cardiovascular diseases that most commonly impact firefighters, and prevention strategies to help firefighters lessen their risk.
Emotional Wellness Training
The emotional and disturbing calls we go on can stick with us – and it’s important to recognize how the stresses of the job can negatively impact our mental health. Sadly, too many in the fire service are ashamed or afraid to ask for the help they need. This class will help de-stigmatize talking about mental health in your department, as well as provide practical information around how to properly debrief after a difficult call with your team, ways to maintain emotional well-being and what resources are available for those who need help.