Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ukraine Inks Firefighter Combat Challenge Deal With On•Target

Dr. Paul Davis, the creator of the 3M/Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge spent 7 days with personnel from the Department of Emergency Services this past week, crafting an agreement to bring the Challenge to Ukraine. 

His visit, covering thousands of kilometers, involved tours of Fire Department museums, training academies, sports facilities and fire stations, including two stations in Chernobyl, as well as meeting with Trade Representatives at the US Embassy in the capital city of Kiev. 

The target date for the Challenge is September 15 of this year, at the Kontraktova Square, strategically located at city center. Invitations have been extended to Dr. Davis, dignitaries of the US Embassy and the President of Ukraine, the honorable Petro Poroshenko.

Mr. Kamil Górecki, the CEO of KZP, the Polish-based fire helmet manufacturer was in attendance for discussions to include the participation of the Good Deeds International Foundation, a European non-profit he represents. The Foundation is providing, at no-cost, assets that are essential for an official Challenge event. 

Colonel Eduard Drach, Commanding Officer of the Special Forces Unit, acting on behalf of the Chief of Department Myolka Chechotkin, functioned as an emissary for the Chief and executed the Memorandum of Understanding at a signing ceremony pictured below at the Department’s Headquarters in Kiev. 

The Official Verbiage for Competition Categories of the Firefighter Combat Challenge®

Individual Defined – a competitor running the entire course, on air, in full turnout gear; automatically considered for the specific respective age or sex category that is in effect at the event, as well as the open category.

Team Defined – a team is made up of 3 to 5 members, each of whom runs the course individually (that is, on air, in full turnout gear) and receives an individual time. The team time is composed of the three fastest individual times from team members added together. If there are less than three members with times due to disqualifications, no-shows etc. there is no time and the team will not receive consideration for placement.

Relay Defined – a group of 3 to 5 members, each of whom completes part of the course before handing a baton over to another member who continues. The members are in full turnout gear, except that face pieces are not worn, and they are not running on air. At regional events, they are normally seeded with their first race, and then enter an elimination bracket based on their seeding time.

Tandem Defined – a pair of competitors each of whom completes roughly half the course, with the handoff coming before or after the Keiser Forcible Entry Evolution. The members are in full turnout gear, except that face pieces are not worn, and they are not running on air. A tandem team may qualify for multiple categories but must specify beforehand which category they wish to compete in. (To compete in more than one category, it necessitates running more than one race, each designated as the specific category for consideration).

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sport and the Ukrainian Fire Service

It’s difficult to wrap our minds around how European fire brigade integrate sport into their budgets. It’s not like here where everything that rings of “sport” is an arms-length relationship. You may have watched some of the events in which firefighters participate in on YouTube.

While in Kiev, the firefighters put on a demonstration for me. A video compendium can be viewed on our Vimeo account here:

Kiev Firefighters participating in sports events

Over the next several postings, I’ll be providing narrative and photos of the sights and activities from Ukraine, including the visit to Chernobyl.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

More Ukrainian Emergency Services info

We’ve visited several of the fire stations in Ukraine, including HQ and the Training Academy. They have a maze-smoke building and an incredible gym that includes a four-lane track, pool, basketball-volleyball court.
Firefighters and their families live in this apartment building above the apparatus bay
My wife got a shot at the Jaws of Life and cut a piece of rebar. Debbie wielding the Jaws of LIfe at the Kiev FD

There are four lanes for sprinting in the obstacle course where a ladder might be carried and a balance beam transversed.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Kiev, Ukraine Fire Service

I’m sharing with you some of the highlights from my visit to several of the fire stations in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
The newest piece of apparatus is a Ford engine
Kiev is a city of more than 3.5M and a fire service of approximately 3500. There are over 25 stations. Julia, wife of Special Operations Chief served as our translator. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dateline: Kiev Ukraine

Travels this week take us to the capital of Ukraine, where discussions surrounding the implementation of the Firefighter Combat Challenge are taking place. Photos tell the story better than words.
View from the tower of the Headquarters Station in Kiev, Ukraine

Meeting with the Chief of Department and review of video of Challenge site
We’ll continue to post more photos and narrative as the week continues. Looking for some North American competitors that would be interested in coming to Ukraine.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Exercise can slow the ageing process – a professor explains how

Professor of Immune Cell Biology, University of Birmingham

The tradition of sending a telegram to every British citizen on their 100th birthday was started just over 100 years ago by George V, who sent out just nine letters. Last year, the Queen had to sign over 16,000 birthday letters. The UK has an aging society, with falling birth rates and increasing life expectancy. Improvements in public health and medicine have helped to achieve this amazing effect on lifespan.

But for far too many, old age is endured and not enjoyed, being associated with disease and physical and mental frailty. Today’s baby boomers may be less likely than previous generations to accept that old age is a time for taking it easy, getting to know your GP and developing a taste for the settee, slippers and daytime TV.

My latest research project, conducted with colleagues at the University of Birmingham and Professor Stephen Harridge at King’s College London, aims to understand which aspects of human aging are inevitable, and which are a result of our modern lifestyles – and therefore under our control.
Staying strong

Prehistoric hunter-gatherer tribes were highly active, spending a lot of time and energy sourcing their food. If they weren’t successful, they would also spend days with or little or no food. By contrast, today we are a highly sedentary society; one study by the Heart Foundation revealed that most adults spend 15 hours a day sitting down. Together with eight hours of sleep, this leaves just one hour for physical activity. An MRI scan of the thigh: as people age, muscle mass declines and turns to fat. Janet Lord/University of Birmingham., Author provided

As we get older, our physical activity levels decline even further. In our research, we have tried to determine how much this low level of physical activity contributes to the aging of many body systems, including muscle, bone and the immune system.

We examined 125 male and female cyclists, aged 55 to 79, who had maintained a high level of cycling throughout most of their adult lives. These were not Olympians, but very keen cyclists who were able to cycle 100km in under 6.5 hours for the men, and 60km in under 5.5 hours for the women.

We have previously looked at several body systems that we know decline with age, such as muscle and bone. At mid-life, people start losing muscle mass and strength at a rate of 1% to 2% per year, making it harder to carry out their normal activities such as climbing stairs. Our bones also become thinner with age and this can eventually lead to diseases such as osteoporosis.

We showed that the cyclists did not lose muscle mass or strength as they age, and their bones only became slightly thinner. We then went on to examine a body system that was not so obviously influenced by physical activity – the immune system.
Start ‘em young

The immune system declines with age, making older adults more susceptible to infections such as flu and pneumonia. They also respond less well to vaccines, so this preventive measure doesn’t offer the same protection which it can to younger people. When we compared the immune system of the cyclists to older adults who had not done regular exercise, and to young people in their twenties we found that their immune systems looked most like the young persons’.

In particular, we found that the cyclists still made lots of new immune T cells, produced by an organ called the thymus, which normally starts to shrink after we reach puberty. The older cyclists seemed to have a thymus that was making as many new T cells as the young people’s. The lifelong cycling seemed to have slowed down the aging of their immune systems.The thymus shrinks with age, affecting immune system function. Janet Lord/University of Birmingham, Author provided

We investigated why this happened and found that the cyclists had high levels of a hormone called interleukin 7 in their blood, which helps to stop the thymus shrinking. Interleukin 7 is made by many cells in the body, including muscle cells, so we think that active muscles will make more of this hormone and keep the immune system, and especially the thymus, young.

So it is possible to take back control of your body and prevent its deterioration with age. The UK’s chief medical officer Sally Davies suggests that people do at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. We don’t know if this is enough to protect your immune system, but it’s a good place to start.

Our physical activity levels start to decline from the age of 25 in the UK, so don’t leave exercise until old age – start now.