Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Retrospective Analysis of Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge Athletes

We aggregated data from 2007 forward (≈20K firefighters) to build this dataset, and looked at average and top performers time (in seconds) on the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge (five linked fire ground activities). [We have over 40,000 records going back to our inception in 1991]

The Firefighter Combat Challenge has been touted as the "Toughest Two Minutes in Sports" by ESPN, our broadcast partners. At the World Championships in Louisville this past October 2017, a sample of male firefighters participated in a blood lactate study, that confirmed the intense, anaerobic nature of this all-out sport. This study will be a doctoral dissertation and published in the not too distant future.

The results are not surprising, but nevertheless, striking.

The validity of the five fire suppression tasks has been repeatedly linked to actual on-the-job behavioral requirements through formal job task analyses. All competitors were wearing SCBA and their PPE (personal protective ensemble- a version of MOPP gear) with a total weight of ≈40 pounds. The climb of a five-story tower, with a 42lb (19Kg) shoulder load, that can be accomplished in as little as 12 seconds by the elite participant, is a calculated energy production is 1.5 HP. The final task, lifting and dragging backward a ≈80Kg (175lb) anatomically correct mannequin a distance of 106 feet is frequently accomplished in as little as 12 seconds.

Keep in mind, that virtually every firefighter could (or should) be capable of performing the Combat Test in about six minutes (the official cut-off time for the Scott Combat Challenge). What makes this a real Challenge is to see what insane time, under six minutes, you do.

Each of the gender groups is large samples. These are self-selected participants, and to that end, are probably not representative of the North American fire service.(I.e., they are more likely to be in the 85th percentile and above.) There are some repeated measures in this cohort. But, with 942 female data points, and 18,021 males, it's a reasonable way to examine trends over a career. Female firefighters are a very small cohort of this universe (≈3.5%) and 5% of the firefighter population.

Some observations from these data: The top-performing women are consistently above the male average at any age. Their small numbers show a trend line that is more variable (as would be expected). The males continue to show amazing performance time at ages when most firefighters have retired (i.e, in their 50's and 60's). Of course, that fact that they're still competing is in and of itself, remarkable.

From a leadership perspective, this speaks loudly as to viability and sustainability of public safety employees, particularly firefighters, who see the value of a personal fitness program as a protection against the ravages of a physically demanding and dangerous occupation. (The one, radially up-sloping datapoint at the extreme right side is the retired 69-year-old Fire Chief of Carlsbad NM. (We do not recommend 70-year-olds to try this competition!)

If you're talking about leading from the front, there's no better platform by which to demonstrate that you can be fit across the entire spectrum of public safety employment - but it will not happen by accident.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

12 Of The Most Potent Disease-fighting Foods On The Planet

The most harmful and deadly diseases plaguing America today are caused, in part, by food--cheap, low-quality processed foods high in sugar, fat, salt, genetically modified ingredients-and pesticides. But when you reach for whole, nutrient-dense, organic foods, you get a food-remedy toolkit that not only will help ward off cancer and heart disease, but also colds, flu, allergies, and a host of other ailments that plague us every day. The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods by James A. Duke, Ph.D., recommends 12 foods to allow your body to better ward off everything from cancer and colds to arthritis and menopause.

1. Beans - Beans are one of the cheapest healthy foods you can buy, and their high isoflavone content helps ward off heart disease, improve bone and prostate health, and ease some symptoms of menopause. Being low in fat and high in protein, beans are easy swaps for red meat, so add them to soups, stews, dips, and even pasta sauces (pureed white beans can be used as a substitute for high-fat Alfredo sauces). Nutrient-wise, it doesn't make much difference if you use dried or canned.

2. Garlic and Onions - Members of the same plant family, garlic and onions do so many things for your heart and immune system; it's hard to list them all. Garlic's 70 active phytochemicals may decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points, and it's been shown to lower rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Onions are the single best source of quercetin, a flavonoid (also found in apples) shown to keep your blood healthy and prevent clots. Both are must-haves for natural allergy prevention.

3. Caffeinators - Caffeinated foods, including coffee, chocolate, and tea, have high levels of polyphenols, dubbed "super" antioxidants for their ability to fight everything from cancer to depression. A Harvard University study even found that drinking five cups of coffee daily cuts the risk of developing diabetes in half. Dark chocolate is better than sugary milk chocolate or white.

4. Celery - Rich in minerals, vitamin C, and phenolic acids, it helps ward off cancer, cold and flu, and allergies. Compounds called phthalides make it a good cholesterol-lowering food remedy, too. The more the better, most research suggests. Duke says to eat at least four stalks a day.

5. Cinnamon - Cinnamon's most notable and studied benefit to the immune system has been its ability to lower blood sugar. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that the Christmas-y spice could lower blood sugar by 13 to 23 percent. The author of that study suspected that had to do with cinnamon's antioxidants, which activate insulin receptors in your cells. A German study showed that it could suppress Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, the cause of most urinary tract infections, and Candida albicans, the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections.

6. Citrus Fruits - The stars of the fall and winter fruit season, citrus fruits contain close to 200 cancer-fighting compounds, cholesterol-lowering fiber, and inflammation-lowering flavonoids. An Australian review of 48 studies on diet and cancer found that consuming a daily serving of citrus fruit may cut your risk of mouth, throat, and stomach cancer by up to one half. Grapefruits are also high in lycopene, a cancer-fighter usually found in tomatoes, which are out of season when grapefruit is at its peak.

7. Ginger - Though widely used as an effective antidote to queasiness, it can also keep cholesterol levels under control, lower blood pressure, and help ease the inflammation associated with arthritis. Researchers have also found that ginger helps kill the influenza virus, plus it helps the immune system fight infection. A study at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Miami found that ginger extract significantly reduced pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee. About an ounce a day will bring benefits, Duke says.

8. Mint - There are actually hundreds of plants in the mint family that you may have never realized were technically classified as mints, including basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, sage, and lemon balm. When used in teas, these herbs can soothe an upset stomach, but emerging research suggests that their individual compounds can prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps keep your memory sharp.

9. Peppers - Spicy chile peppers have high levels of capsaicin, which interferes with your mind's pain receptors, and therefore act as natural painkillers. Capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat, has also been found to aid in weight loss by keeping your metabolism in check. Sweet peppers have a similar compound called dihydrocapsiate that comes without the spicy kick of capsaicin but with the same effects on pain and weight loss. They also contain loads of vitamin C and beta-carotene.

10. Pomegranates - Pomegranates have been used for centuries in the Middle East, Iran, and India as a folk remedy, Duke writes, and for good reason. They're a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants that ward off cancer. They could also help fight Alzheimer's disease. Loma Linda University researchers discovered that mice that consumed pomegranate juice experienced 50 percent less brain degeneration than animals that drank sugar-water. Pace University researchers found that pomegranate juice can kill the S. mutans bacteria, one of the main causes of cavities.

11. Turmeric - A relative of ginger, turmeric is the spice that gives curries their vivid golden hue and yellow mustard its bright color. For thousands of years, people in India have considered turmeric a healing herb. Studies show that it protects the stomach, helping to prevent ulcers, and it aids in the digestion of fats. The spice may also fight Alzheimer's disease. Researchers have found that elderly villagers in India appear to have the world's lowest rate of the disease, possibly because of the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin in turmeric.

12. Walnuts - A great source of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that curbs your appetite, as well as vitamin E, magnesium, folate, protein, and fiber. Walnuts boast more heart-healthy omega-3 fats than salmon, making them a good antidote to seasonal depression. This wonder nut is also packed with anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Many of the compounds in walnuts, such as vitamin B5 and folic acid, can be destroyed by heat, so it's best to eat them raw. 

Rodale's Organic Life has the report.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mudslides in Santa Barbara County

While in Sacramento last week with Chief Walt White, we had non-stop rain. But, not as bad as S.B. County.

This news segment from ABC is a must watch.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/lost-moments-time-20-dead-california-mudslide-includes/story?id=52355602

I’ll have a report and heads up within the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Must Read from the Wall Street Journal, by Peggy Noonan, July 13


This week the New York City Police Department buried one of its own, also one of our own. We should put aside a moment to mourn.

The murdered officer was Miosotis Familia, 48, reportedly the youngest of 10 children of Dominican immigrants and the first in her family to attend college. She had three children and cared for her own ailing mother.

She'd been a cop for 12 years. She was one of the people who keep my city of 8.5 million up and operating each day, in both its personal and public spheres. 

She was on the midnight shift in the Bronx on Wednesday, July 5. Her killer, 34-year-old Alexander Bonds, was a lowlife and prison parolee with untreated mental illness. He posted threatening anticop rants on Facebook. 

The night of the murder he walked up to her police vehicle and fired once through the window, shooting Officer Familia in the head. Police shot him dead soon after. Here is NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill at her funeral:

Regular people sign up to be cops. They sign up for this job of protecting strangers knowing the inherent risks. . . . But not one of us ever agreed to be murdered in an act of indefensible hate. Not one of us signed up to never return to our family or loved ones. So where are the demonstrations for this single mom who cared for her elderly mother and her own three children?"

The 4,000 mourners stood and burst into sustained applause. Mr. O'Neill continued: "There is anger and sorrow, but why is there no outrage? Because Miosotis was wearing a uniform? Because it was her job? I simply do not accept that. Miosotis was targeted, ambushed and assassinated. She wasn't given a chance to defend herself. That should matter to every single person who can hear my voice in New York City and beyond." 

It should.

Unnamed but a clear focus of Mr. O'Neill's remarks was the radicalism and rage of the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with a national media too often willing to paint the police, in any given incident, as guilty until proven innocent. This sets a mood that both excites and inspires the unsteady and unstable.

Mr. O'Neill: "When we demonize a whole group of people, whether that group is defined by race, by religion or by occupation, this is the result. I don't know how else to say it. This was an act of hate, in this case against police officers—the very people who stepped forward and made a promise to protect you day and night." 

We are not paying enough attention to what is happening to the police throughout the country. As this was being written, Newsweek reported the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund claims that the number of officers killed in the line of duty was up 30% for the 12 months ending June 30, compared with the preceding year. 

That number doesn't include Miosotis Familia. The head of the Memorial Fund said: "Officers have been targeted for the job they do, shot and killed, or hit with vehicles." It should be a major, sustained national story when cops are killed for being cops. Yet each incident never gels into a theme. The media caravan moves on. Orwell spoke of forcing inconvenient stories down the memory hole. It is a feature of our age that we now force them down the hole before they've had a chance to become a memory.

Peter Vega, Genesis Villella and Delilah Vega mourn their mother, Officer  Miosotis Familia at the World Changers Church in the Bronx, July 11. Photo by Associated Press


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Former Challenge Staffer Sander Cohen LODD

Deputy Fire Marshal Sander Cohen
FIRE OFFICER/FIRE MARSHAL & LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER BOTH STRUCK AND KILLED WHILE HELPING AT INTERSTATE CRASH SCENE

The Secret List www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com

We regret to pass on that two Law Enforcement officers (Fire Officer and FBI Agent) were struck and killed in the Line of Duty while standing on the shoulder of I-270 in Montgomery County, Maryland as the first arriving to the scene of a traffic crash.

Around 2200 hours one of the officers stopped on I-270 near the single-vehicle crash. He requested assistance and used his car to block the damaged vehicle from oncoming traffic. Both men moved over to the shoulder of the fast lane when a southbound vehicle began to approach them.

The driver of that vehicle swerved to avoid hitting vehicles in one lane and ended up hitting the officers. Both men were thrown over the jersey wall to the northbound side of I-270, where it appears at least one of them was then struck by a northbound vehicle.

One officer died on the scene and the other was transported to Suburban Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver and one passenger in the vehicle that struck the men were taken to Suburban Hospital.

A second passenger in that car was taken to Shady Grove Hospital. The driver of the northbound vehicle that struck one of the men reported no injuries.

Montgomery County Fire PIO Pete Piringer said that a Deputy Chief fire marshal and an FBI agent were killed in the crash.

"Sadly, @mcfrs learned this morning of the untimely passing of Sander Cohen".  Cohen was a Lieutenant with the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department and a Deputy Chief with Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office, Maryland State Police.

Police said there is no indication of alcohol involvement in these crashes. The causes of the initial crash remain under investigation. No charges have been filed at this time. Much more to follow.

Once again a tragic reminder of the risk we have when operating on roadways. Our condolences to
the Maryland State Police, the FBI, the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department and the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Department.

Sander was an employee of On•Target 10 years ago and a good friend of my daughter, Brittany.

Monday, December 4, 2017

John Paul II’s Prescient 1995 Letter to Women

From Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal 
© November 30, 2017

He wrote of ‘the long and degrading history . . . of violence against women in the area of sexuality.

Here is something to ground us in the good: Pope John Paul II’s 1995 Letter to Women, sent to the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing. 

As a document, it has more or less fallen through history’s cracks. But it’s deeply pertinent to this moment and was written with pronounced warmth by a man who before he became a priest hoped to be a playwright. Here is what he said:

You would never be so low as to abuse women if you knew what they are and have been in the history of humanity: “Women have contributed to that history as much as men and, more often than not, they did so in much more difficult conditions. I think particularly of those women who loved culture and art and devoted their lives to them in spite of the fact that they were frequently at a disadvantage” in education and opportunity. 

Women have been “underestimated, ignored and not given credit for their intellectual contributions.” Only a small part of their achievements have been documented, and yet humanity knows that it “owes a debt” to the “great, immense, feminine ‘tradition.’ ” But, John Paul exclaimed, “how many women have been and continue to be valued more for their physical appearance than for their skill, their professionalism, their intellectual abilities, their deep sensitivity; in a word, the very dignity of their being!”

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Annual Survey Monkey Results: Part 1

You’ve probably noticed that seemingly every webpage comes with a survey. And, maybe we’re suffering from survey fatigue. Or, maybe everyone was joyously pleased with the event in Louisville. Well, not everyone.

Twenty-six people returned the survey. And, yes, I’m aware that we can’t please everyone. Believe me, they’ll let you know. For example, on the subject of the Lion’s Den Dinner, one attendee said that the food was the worst ever, counterbalanced by another who said it was the best. Were they at the same place?

Since the survey is anonymous, I have no way of reaching out for clarification. So, with the hope that you who did make your thoughts known, this is the best forum to say that we read every comment.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll address the wide range of positive suggestions. Some were downright excellent. That’s why we ask. We can’t think of everything.

The biggest challenge is attempting to get the word out to everyone on site, or on their way. The Daily Briefing will return. You may recall in the past that during or Wild Card Eliminations, we’d ask all Competitors to sit in the bleachers. Getting everyone’s undivided attention was the best method of ensuring that you knew that there were goody bags that contained the Program Guide. These, we never ran out of; you just needed to know that they were available.

And, yes, we did screw up the sizes of the Lion Competitor Tees. But, despite our announcements, some never got the word that Thursday, they all showed up. And your ticket stub could be used for redemption.

Seating in the Lion’s Den was limited to 400. As was announced, you need to show up on time if you wanted to sit as a group. The wait staff did attempt to accommodate the small number who arrived too late to claim a table. In a few short weeks, I’ll be doing an advance to Sacramento with the hopes that we can find a venue large enough for perhaps 500.

Topics coming up will be Rule changes, Competition Categories, and a few other housekeeping items. There’s always a forum for getting your thoughts known. Calling the office or sending an email works as well.