Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Protecting the Southern Border

A few years ago, I was part of an 8-member team consisting of Border Patrol Agents and Occupational Health Physiologists that would study job-related injuries in the Border Patrol. Over the span of this one-year project, I spent one month walking the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas with Agents.

At the time the Workers' Comp rate for Agents was worse than the US Marine Corps. I wondered why? That is, until I actually saw the environment in which Agents worked.

This is not traditional law enforcement; it's more like foot-based infantry in some of the world's most inhospitable environment. Everything out there can hurt you. Poisonous snakes that bite. Plant life that will cut, poke, scrape and irritate. And, of course, insects.

There's a lot of talk about building a wall. The estimated cost is huge. This video provides a perspective that I doubt most Americans are aware of.

This is a video shot on the Southern Border in California. Read the description for more information. A 360° View of the Mexico-US Border

The U.S.-Mexico Border, Then and Now

I don't have much to add to the commentary; these Agents tell it pretty much like it is.

A section of the wall near El Paso

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Commentary from a Rookie

Ed Lyell and new-found friend and Coach: Ken Helgerson
Dr Paul,

I have been working full time in Fire and Emergency Medical Service for 29 Years and this January I came to a point in my Career where I no longer felt much Brotherhood in the Fire Service and felt like I no longer mattered within My Fire Department. Physically I was completing multiple 100 Mile Ultramarathons and Triathlons along with Open Water Swimming. I found this was not much help with the specific skills we do and I was in terrible Fire Service Shape. Also, I saw that Internally my body was fighting early stages of Heart Disease and Pre Diabetes. All of these together I knew I needed to do something drastic to be able to make it to Retirement and Beyond.

So at 47, I decided to train and compete in my first Firefighter Combat Challenge at FDIC.

In training, I found little or no support from My Brother Firefighters some of who were former competitors. Troy Brown at My Department helped me transform my workouts to build the strength needed to complete the event. The first time I actually ran the whole course was at FDIC.

At FDIC I was overwhelmed by the Pride and Brotherhood that I and my wife Rieko felt. Immediately at warm ups, Brothers were pulling me aside and giving me suggestions and walking me through the course.

When I lined up to start, little did I know that the Brother standing next to me would become my Mentor and Guide through this journey.

While I was trying to survive my first time out Ken Helgerson finished in Personal Record time joining the Lion’s Den. The next thing I know is Ken is by my side every step of the way and as I fell at the end I could hear Ken and Mike Word yelling "Pull, Pull, Pull!" and somehow Rescue Randy and I made it across the line. In that moment my Life has changed forever!

Since FDIC Ken has been in constant contact and I had the honor to compete with him as part of a Tandem Team in Longmont, Colorado. The Lessons he gave me has got me hooked on the Tandem event in addition to the Individual. Though I learned my lesson at Sulphur Springs, Texas that three Tandems in a day can be tough.

Social Media has been a fantastic place to exchange training suggestions and critique. Matt Baca has been my online and in-person mentor along with so many others.

I have completed Seven events this Year and to memorialize my Lucky 7 I got the Firefighter Combat Challenge Tattoo as a constant Reminder of the Pride and Brotherhood that the challenge celebrates.

Over the last Seven events I have truly discovered the Jacobs Ladder of Learning that Ken Helgerson described. Each time I compete I learn something new to improve my performance and I look forward to one day Joining the Lions Den!

Thank You, Dr. Paul for creating this life changing event. I truly appreciate it.

Kind Regards,

Edward Lyell
Federal Fire San Diego

The Japanese characters are “Firefighter”

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Testimonial from Jim Neville

Jim Neville, retired from Morton Grove, IL paid us a visit at the Boulder County Fair just a couple of weeks ago. He brought with him some of his Challenge Bling pictured below. At some urging several years ago, I asked Jim to give me a quick synopsis of what the Challenge meant to him. His remarks from 2008 are posted below:

Hi Paul,

Jim Neville Finished in Third Place in the Over 50 Category in 1999
Thank you for being persistent, and sorry I have not had a chance to get to my emails very frequently to respond to you. To have an interview is going to be tough but I want to respond to you on my thoughts of the Challenge by email. Where do you start, 16 years is a long time. I got so that I was fast enough to be competitive but not fast enough to be in the elite, needless to say, it was a great career, my only regret is I wish you would have come up with it sooner. I am going to retire this year 08 with 29 yrs, we are in the process of getting things moved, so it is a very busy time.

The Challenge has been nothing but positive for my career. It has been a tool to help me stay focused on my job. Career advancement from firefighter/paramedic, Lieutenant, District Chief, to college from 2-year junior college, 4-year Bachelors in Fire Science, 2 year Masters in Management Degree. I think I told you I had written a number of papers through out my college career on the Challenge, and do you think that I could find one of them, cause I would send one to you, they got to be packed away in one of these boxes somewhere, but what I can tell you is that I got A's on them.

The Challenge has helped me to stay fit and to see the value of physical fitness for the rest of my life. It helped me to survive in New Orleans (Slidell) for three weeks without much sleep, once again the value of physical fitness. I qualified for the finals that year and I wanted to compete real bad, but the priority was New Orleans, that‘s our job.

The Crüe- what can I say, they are the best. If there is anything that I can say or do to help them get a raise then so be it cause they are so well worth it. The 16 years I have competed they have been very professional and have worked very hard at the different sites to keep the show going, my hats off to them. Rick Payne, John Forsberg, these guys took me under their wing when I was competing by myself, both former competitors and lifelong friends, they exemplify the true challenge spirit and the fire service. Clint Lamb a great competitor and friend. Bill Edwards a southern boy that gets after it and I'm proud to know him. Rex- what can I say about Rex, It is an honor to know him. To watch him work tirelessly and with passion at this last Finals was truly inspirational to me; he is truly the mouthpiece for the challenge and my lifelong friend.

Now to get down to what this email is all about. The Firefighter Combat Challenge has passed all barriers, Age, Race, Gender, (18-60+), (Brown, White, Black), (Male, Female),  (Short-Tall), anyone who steps onto the course my hat goes off to them and I would be proud to work right along side everyone of them.

The Challenge inspires confidence (I can do this and my time can get faster) from competitors and hope (maybe if I get out of the Barco lounger and improve my physical fitness, maybe it will be a lifelong health habit improvement for me) for would be competitors. The Challenge has helped the public and village employers to accept, hey he's 60+, he or she is short, hey that's a female, and what's the difference if he or she is black, white or brown because they are proving they can do it, and as a competitor you don't see any barriers because you understand the training and commitment it takes to compete.

Paul excuse me for rambling, but I get a little passionate about the Challenge, and excuse the spelling cause my spell check doesn't work and my dictionary is in a box somewhere.

The Challenge is raising it another notch and I am proud to have known you and to have been a part of it.

God's speed my friend and Happy New Year

Jim Neville

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Interesting U.S. Facts

#1 In more than half of all states, the highest paid public employee is a football coach.

#2 It costs the U.S. government 1.8 cents to mint a penny and 9.4 cents to mint a nickel.

#3 Almost half of all Americans (47 percent) do not put a single penny from their paychecks into savings.
#4 Apple corporation has more cash than the U.S. Treasury.
#5 Alaska is 429 times larger than Rhode Island, but R.I. has a much larger population.

#6 Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other 49 states combined.

#7 The city of Juneau, Alaska, measures about 3,000 square miles. It's larger than the entire state of Delaware.

#8 When LBJ's "War on Poverty" began, less than 10 percent of all U.S. children were growing up in single-parent households. Today, that number is 33 percent.

#9 In 1950, less than 5 pct. of babies in the US were born to unmarried parents. Today, that number is over 40 pct.

#10 The poverty rate of households led by married couples is 6.8 pct. For homes led by female single parents, the poverty rate is 37.1 percent.

#11 In 2013, women earned 60 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded in the USA.

#12 According to the CDC, 34.6 percent of all men in the U.S. are obese.

#13 The average supermarket in the US wastes about 3,000 lbs of food each year; and, about 20 pct. of garbage in our landfills is food.

#14 Recent survey: 81 pct. of Russians now have a negative view of the US - much higher than during the Cold War era.

#15 Montana has three times more cows than people.

#16 The grizzly bear remains the official state animal of CA., but none have been seen there since 1922. They are plentiful in Mississippi and other southern states.

#17 A survey found that "A steady job" is the number one thing that American women look for in a husband; and, 75 pct. of them would have serious problems dating unemployed men.

#18 According to a study by Economist Carl Frey and Engineer Michael Osborne, up to 47 pct. of jobs in the U.S. may be lost to computers, robots and other technology.

#19 The only state where coffee is grown commercially: Hawaii.

#20 The original name of the city of Atlanta was "Terminus."

#21 The state with the most millionaires per capita is Maryland.

#22 One survey of 50-year-old U.S. men found that only 12 pct. said "I'm very happy."

#23 The U.S. has 845 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people.

#24 Nearly half of all U.S. homes have NO emergency supplies. Even fewer have fire extinguishers.

#25 There are three U.S. towns named "Santa Claus."

#26 There's a town in Michigan named "Hell."

#27 If you have NO debt and have $10 in your wallet, you're wealthier than 25 pct. of all Americans.

#28 By age 18, U.S. children have seen about 40,000 murders on television.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

From the Kingdom of Kuwait

This marks the third season that members of the fire service from the Kingdom and or Oil Company of Kuwait have participated in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge.

In Apopka, Florida, two representatives of Kuwait competed in our event there. The following week, they also traveled to Virginia Beach.

Here are the places and times for our Kuwaiti friends:
Apoka, FL, May 12, 2017
Colonel Yousef Al Qallaf: 2:09.26
Khaled Kanaan: 2:33.43
In Virginia Beach, May 19 (Where these photos were taken)
Yousef: 1:42.91 (3rd Place Individual)
Khaled: 2:35.77

I was pleasantly surprised with the presentation pictured below. The Kuwaiti's historically renowned for their intrepid sailing skills have adopted the image of a sailboat as their county's "branding-logo."

We look forward to seeing the full contingent in Louisville this year.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Putting Things in Perspective...Dr. Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post

Why do they even play the game?

In mathematics, when you’re convinced of some eternal truth but can’t quite prove it, you offer it as a hypothesis (with a portentous capital H) and invite the world, future generations if need be, to prove you right or wrong. Often, a cash prize is attached.

In that spirit, but without the cash, I offer the Krauthammer Conjecture: In sports, the pleasure of winning is less than the pain of losing. By any Benthamite pleasure/pain calculation, the sum is less than zero. A net negative of suffering. Which makes you wonder why anybody plays at all.

Winning is great. You get to hoot and holler, hoist the trophy, shower in champagne, ride the open parade car and boycott the White House victory ceremony (choose your cause).

But, as most who have engaged in competitive sports know, there’s nothing to match the amplitude of emotion brought by losing. When the Cleveland Cavaliers lost the 2015 NBA Finals to Golden State, LeBron James sat motionless in the locker room, staring straight ahead, still wearing his game jersey, for 45 minutes after the final buzzer.

Here was a guy immensely wealthy, widely admired, at the peak of his powers — yet stricken, inconsolable. So it was for Ralph Branca, who gave up Bobby Thomson’s shot heard ’round the world in 1951. So too for Royals shortstop Freddie Patek, a (literal) picture of dejection sitting alone in the dugout with his head down after his team lost the 1977 pennant to the New York Yankees.

In 1986, the “Today Show” commemorated the 30th anniversary of Don Larsen pitching the only perfect game in World Series history. They invited Larsen and his battery mate, Yogi Berra. And Dale Mitchell, the man who made the last out. Mitchell was not amused. “I ain’t flying 2,000 miles to talk about striking out,” he fumed. And anyway, the called third strike was high and outside. It had been 30 years and Mitchell was still mad. (Justly so. Even the Yankee fielders acknowledged that the final pitch was outside the strike zone.)

For every moment of triumph, there is an unequal and opposite feeling of despair. Take that iconic photograph of Muhammad Ali standing triumphantly over the prostrate, semiconscious wreckage of Sonny Liston. Great photo. Now think of Liston. Do the pleasure/pain calculus.

And we are talking here about professional athletes — not even the legions of Little Leaguers, freshly eliminated from the playoffs, sobbing and sniffling their way home, assuaged only by gallons of Baskin-Robbins.

Any parent can attest to the Krauthammer Conjecture. What surprises is how often it applies to battle-hardened professionals making millions.

I don’t feel sorry for them. They can drown their sorrows in the Olympic-sized infinity pool that graces their Florida estate. (No state income tax.) I am merely fascinated that, despite their other substantial compensations, some of them really do care. Most interestingly, often the very best.

Max Scherzer, ace pitcher for the Washington Nationals, makes $30 million a year. On the mound, forget the money. His will to win is scary. Every time he registers a strikeout, he stalks off the mound, circling, head down, as if he’s just brought down a mastodon.

On June 6, tiring as he approached victory, he began growling — yes, like a hungry tiger — at Chase Utley as he came to the plate. “It was beautiful,” was the headline of the blog entry by The Post’s Scott Allen. Nats broadcaster and former ballplayer F.P. Santangelo was so thrilled by the sheer madness of it that he said “I want to run down there and put a uni on . . . I mean, I’ve got goose bumps right now.”

When Scherzer gets like that, managers are actually afraid to go out and tell him he’s done. He goes Mad Max. In one such instance last year, as Scherzer labored, manager Dusty Baker came out to the mound. Scherzer glared.

“He asked me how I was feeling,” Scherzer recounted, “and I said I still feel strong . . . I still got one more hitter in me.”

Asked Baker, demanding visual confirmation: “Which eye should I look at?”

Scherzer, who famously has one blue and one brown eye, shot back: “Look in the [expletive] brown eye!”

“That’s the pitching one,” he jokingly told reporters after the game.

Baker left him in.

After losing her first ever UFC match, mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey confessed that she was in the corner of the medical room, “literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing.’ ” It doesn’t get lower than that.

Said Vince Lombardi, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” To which I add — conjecture — yes, but losing is worse.

Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archive, follow him on Twitteror subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Perspective of a Former Five-Time Champion

Four-Time World Champion Martha Ellis
As a woman entering the fire service in the early 1990’s I felt it was critical to establish myself as a physically capable employee early in my career. Granted, everyone was expected to pass a physical ability test, but I was looking for something more definitive and irrefutable. Opportunities to “prove” one’s self on the actual fire ground are usually few and far between. The subjectivity of field evaluation by my peers also left me feeling vulnerable to misrepresentation and distortion of the facts.

Finding the Firefighter Combat Challenge (Challenge) was heaven sent because it was controlled, measurable and an undeniable representation of both the mental and physical rigors of the fire ground. Participating in the Challenge truly set the tone for my entire career.

First and foremost, it redefined what teamwork in physical and mental preparedness meant to me. I’d been an athlete all my life, including collegiate sports, and I can honestly say I’d never trained as hard for anything prior. Our team pushed each other every day to become stronger, faster and more consistent. Although each of us stepped onto that course alone, the sense of team and commitment to greater representation was embedded in every effort. Our team grew from commitment and sacrifice to each other’s success, values learned only from a strong sense of common purpose. That’s what the Challenge gave us as a team.

As an individual, I gained a deep sense great satisfaction from my involvement in the Challenge. I left no doubt with my peers that I could “carry my weight.” I could walk into the firehouse confident that I was an accepted and integral part of that combat team.

The collateral benefits have continued to pay dividends to this day, 16 years after my last effort on the course. Embracing the importance of physical preparedness in the fire service I became a champion for the cause. I began speaking at fire conferences on the subject of fitness, nutrition and the politics of establishing fitness standards for incumbent personnel. I was also invited to speak to women firefighting groups specifically about the challenges we face and how we can better prepare ourselves to not just survive a career in the fire service, but thrive.

In looking for opportunities to reach a larger audience I began submitting articles to various trade magazines. I developed a fantastic working relationship with Fire Rescue Magazine, becoming their fitness editor and monthly columnist for five years. I also served on their editorial board for several years following, continuing to spread the word on the value of fitness in the fire service.

The Challenge and what followed helped me develop in too many ways to even mention. Suffice it to say I’m a stronger, more engaged, politically savvy member of the fire service largely because I made the choice to step out on the course and compete. Personally speaking, the singularly greatest collateral benefit of my involvement in the Challenge has been my marriage of 20 years to my teammate, best friend, mentor, unwavering supporter and life love, Jeff Ellis. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t dared to participate in the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Humans Should Warm Up Before Exercise

From Today I Found Out by Davin Hiskey

There isn’t a respectable personal trainer in any sport that doesn't stress the importance of warming up before you begin a workout or athletic endeavor. Most people seem to know you can prevent injuries and allow for better performance should you follow their advice. So, what about warming up allows for these benefits? What exactly is going on in the body when you more slowly prepare it for strenuous activity, rather than just jumping right into it?

The simple answer is that warming up increases blood flow to muscles, allowing for an elevated amount of oxygen and nutrients to be delivered. This prepares the muscles for a rise in workload. Warming up will also begin raising body temperature, which helps you utilize oxygen better. That boost in blood flow also serves to prime the nerves supplying your muscles with impulses, increasing the quality of performance.

Along with the blood flow and temperature benefits, an appropriate warm up also prevents injuries by providing a greater range of motion, while simultaneously improving the lubrication of joints, allowing for better movement. Lastly, many trainers posit that a good warm-up before any event where performance is valued can help mentally prepare you for the task to come.

So that's the high-level view of it all. But what actually is going on internally here?

First, let’s look at what gives your body the ability to deliver more oxygen. It seems common sense that if the average heart rate is around 70 beats per minute, and each beat ejects approximately 70 ml of blood, then your heart will circulate about 4.9 liters every minute. The higher the heart rate, the more blood will be pumped. During extreme exercise, studies have shown your heart can pump up to 30 liters per minute! The question then becomes- why does slowly increasing heart rate, and by extension blood flow, vs. suddenly leaping into action and rapidly increasing blood flow allow for better performance, while reducing injury?

When your muscles are working harder than normal, they require more oxygen and nutrients. This provides all the electrolytes responsible for the electrical impulses providing for muscle contraction and glucose to start a cascade of chemical events leading to the production of a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is responsible for moving those electrolytes (and other molecules) into, out of, and around your cells. Oxygen is also essential in creating ATP.

When oxygen is used to create ATP, it’s called aerobic metabolism. When you increase the work of your muscles past the point oxygen can make the appropriate amount of ATP, your cells begin to use glucose and acids to make more, also known as anaerobic metabolism.

The byproduct of anaerobic metabolism is the increased production of an acid called pyruvate, which also creates lactic acid. Those acids will cause all kinds of damage to your cells. The resulting pain that follows leaves every marathon runner in agony the next day. The maximum heart rate at which your cells can use oxygen to make ATP is known as your Vo2max.

What does all this chemistry have to do with warming up?

Studies have consistently shown that your Vo2 max is increased when you warm up slowly. This is because the many small capillaries that supply your cells are closed when resting. Should you open them up, they’ll be more able to provide the extra oxygen and nutrients to the working cells. So, warming up will cause those resting capillaries to open up. Thus, when the event starts, and you really need them, they’ll already be able to handle a higher Vo2max, and you get a better performance.

For example, in one study, people were subjected to sprinting at maximum effort for 10-15 seconds without warming up. 70% of them had abnormal ECG findings (the electrical impulses providing your heart with its needed contraction). Those abnormalities were attributed to inadequate blood supply to the heart (anaerobic metabolism). Those affected 70% of participants were then allowed to warm up for just 2 minutes prior to sprinting, again for 10-15 seconds. That little of a warm up was enough to reduce the ECG abnormalities by 90%!

Another way your body gets the benefit of more oxygen is by raising its temperature and making your cells more acidic. An increase in your body's temperature will support faster muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as a boost to nerve impulses and raise the metabolism of cells. One of the mechanisms for these results revolves around how your body carries that oxygen.

The molecule within your blood responsible for circulating oxygen is called hemoglobin, which attaches and subsequently releases oxygen thanks to the affinity hemoglobin has for oxygen. (That affinity is measured by what is known as the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve.)

To spare you a lengthy technical discussion of how that all works, I'll just say that, in a nutshell, each hemoglobin molecule can carry four oxygen molecules. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will carry four, but it can. The amount of oxygen it does carry is called oxygen saturation. The more oxygen around the hemoglobin, like in the case of hemoglobin exposed to the air in your lungs, the more saturated it will become. In environments where there is less oxygen present, like in the case of cells that are experiencing anaerobic metabolism, hemoglobin will release the oxygen. That free oxygen is then readily available for your cells to use to create ATP.

At higher body temperatures and more acidic environments, hemoglobin will release more oxygen compared to lower temperatures, and less acidic environments. Should you warm up, your increased body temperature and the slightly higher acidic environment inside your cells will cause your hemoglobin to release more oxygen. The result increases your cells' ability to make more ATP using oxygen and giving you the competitive advantage of an increased Vo2max. These results are known as The Bohr effect.

Thus, increased blood flow, combined with the greater oxygen metabolism, accounts for several of the known benefits to warming up- namely, the performance enhancement provided by the increased Vo2max, and the priming of the nerves supplying your muscles with their necessary impulses.

Now on to injury prevention.

It's widely known that warming up will prevent muscle injury, specifically, preventing painful tears and strains. No study to date has definitively shown the exact mechanisms causing the damage. Get a group of people to subject themselves to a study administering muscle stress so great it will tear them while a team of researchers monitors everything going on internally and you might be able provide some detailed insight...

Until then, the leading theory is that "cold" muscles are less elastic and shorter than those that aren’t. Along with the muscles, your ligaments and tendons also shorten up when not particularly used. Should you subject your shortened and stiff muscles, tendons, and ligaments to the force required for strenuous activity, they may snap or tear, somewhat analogous to how a cold rubber band will snap quicker than a warm one when stretched. So, warm up, then stretch appropriately, and your rubber-band-muscles will be able to better elongate like Gumby in a yoga class, thus helping to prevent injury.

As the theory on injury prevention goes, your joints will also begin to become more lubricated during warm up, allowing for greater range of motion (ROM). This is because the production of fluid that brings oxygen and nutrients into the joints, while also providing lubrication (synovial fluid), is increased during exercise. So, warm up, and your joints will also be better able to handle the stress and the increased ROM needed for athletic performance.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Branson Discovered

The crowd on the Blue side of the course at Branson on the Bass Pro lot
I don’t know what you’ve heard about Branson, Missouri, but if you’re like me, probably not much.

Last year was our first appearance there and regrettably, I had a schedule conflict, as I originally did in May of this year. But the flooding of the Lake and subsequently our parking lot venue in Spring postponed the event, so last weekend we headed back.

A sinkhole at Top of the Rock in Branson
First, there’s a good reason why 10M people visit Branson every year. The sheer number of attractions and amenities are too numerous to cover in this BlogSpot. For starters, did you know that in many states where there is a Bass Pro store, it’s the number one attraction in that state? Bass Pro got started in Springfield, just 50 miles up the Interstate. Bass Pro graciously provided their parking lot for our event.

I was afforded a two-hour tour by Terra Alphonso of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. We must have driven 30 miles and sill did not see everything. There are amusement parks, water parks, ballparks, miniature and professional golf courses galore. Roller coasters, Ferris wheels, hotels, motels, lodges, gated resorts, go-cart courses, concert halls and every imaginable restaurant. If you go bored in Branson, it’d be because you never left your room.

The driving range at Top of the Rock
What’s likely in our future is a World Challenge event in the out years. Normally, we say very little until we have a signed contract. But in this case, I’d like to get out in front of the schedule. I can’t say when, but I’m pretty sure yes is the answer that it’s going to happen. And my job is to raise the awareness of the attractions, features, and benefits for any of the venues where the Challenge will be.

This is the first of several overviews of Branson that will appear in my BlogSpot. I can guarantee that whether you wait for the Challenge to happen there, or you just decide to check it out for a family destination, you won’t be disappointed with any time spent in Branson.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Safety Is Our First Concern: Bringing Rescue Randy Home

A Proper Dummy Drag
We would like everyone who steps out on the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge course to have a positive experience. By this, we mean finishing under your own power with something left in the gas tank. 

The only shortcut in the Challenge is preparation. Our website is replete with a host of training programs. One of the most important considerations is a realistic finish time. Coming in with a preconceived time, without the parallel experience is not the best way to attack the course. 

Knowing your limitations and running your own race are very important considerations. Oftentimes, the competitive impulse kicks in and you’ve determined that the guy in the next chute will never beat you to the top of the tower. The problem here is that finish line is behind you, not the top of the stairs and you have no idea of the capabilities of your opponent. 

When guys start having problems, it’s the responsibility of the lane grader to protect you from yourself. Having watched several thousand races, these guys are pretty astute at knowing who’s outside of their comfort zone. The crowd loves to extend their sympathy and energy and this now creates an environment that can exacerbate the problem. I mean, some of our competitors would seemingly rather die that quit. And we don’t want that to happen. 

There is a Six Minute Rule, meaning, we’ll terminate your run if you’re not done in 6. But, that’s pretty generous and lacks precision as to the metabolic status of the racer. So, here’s some Guidelines for our officials as to when to pull the plug. 

1. Competitor has repeatedly dropped the dummy
2. It’s 5:00 elapsed time and the halfway point on the dummy drag has not been reached
3. There’s no forward progress being made

We want to intervene at the point where recovery can take place with the Competitor walking off the course under their own power. 

A few words about recovery:

No matter how inviting are those chairs in the rehab area, resist sitting down. 
Drink only water within 20 minutes of competing- unless you want to see that sports drink again.
The Pit Crew will assist in getting your bunkers off. 
Walk briskly after running. The faster you move, the faster you’ll recover.
If you can’t keep fluid down, you’ll need an I.V.
We don’t want anyone leaving until they can produce urine. 

For any first-timer that does not finish, we’ll extend a 50% discount on the next event in which they compete. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Exercise Makes You Younger at the Cellular Level

Time Magazine
Amanda MacMillan
May 15, 2017

The more exercise people get, the less their cells appear to age. In a new study in Preventive Medicine, people who exercised the most had biological aging markers that appeared nine years younger than those who were sedentary.

Researchers looked at the telomeres from nearly 6,000 adults enrolled in a multi-year survey run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People were asked what physical activities they had done in the past month and how vigorously they did them. They also provided DNA samples, from which the researchers measured telomere length. Telomeres, the protein caps on the ends of human chromosomes, are markers of aging and overall health. Every time a cell replicates, a tiny bit of telomere is lost, so they get shorter with age. But they shrink faster in some people than in others, explains study author Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University.

“We know that, in general, people with shorter telomeres die sooner and are more likely to develop many of our chronic diseases,” says Tucker. “It's not perfect, but it's a very good index of biological aging.”

MORE: Here's Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

After adjusting for smoking, obesity, alcohol use, gender, race and other factors, Tucker found in his study that people who exercised the most had significantly longer telomeres than those who were sedentary. The most sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs of DNA at the ends of their telomeres, compared to the most active: a difference of about nine years of cellular aging, he says

To qualify as top-tier exercisers, people had to do the equivalent of at least 30-40 minutes of jogging a day five days a week. Doing less was also linked to aging benefits, but they were not as powerful. People who did vigorous exercise had telomeres that signaled about seven fewer years of biological aging, compared to people who did moderate levels of activity.

Tucker says he was surprised to see so big of a difference between moderate and high levels of exercise. “Moderate exercise was still valuable and it had some benefit, but it was really those high levels of physical activity that made the real difference,” says Tucker. The top exercisers were vigorously working out 150 to 200 minutes a week, or engaging in light- to moderate-intensity activity for longer periods. Research continues to suggest that more exercise means deeper reductions in risk for chronic disease, to a certain point.

MORE: How Exercise Keeps Your DNA Young

The current study relied on self-reports about physical activity and was only able to show an association—not a cause-and-effect relationship—between exercise amount and telomere length. It wasn’t able to account for factors like depression, stress, sleep disturbances and dietary practices that could affect exercise habits, genetic changes, or both.

But a link between physical activity and cellular aging makes sense, says Tucker. Experts believe that telomere length may be linked to inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which exercise has been shown to ease over time.

While there’s no guarantee that people with longer telomeres will live longer, healthier lives, the odds may be in their favor, says Tucker. “We all know people who seem younger than their actual age,” he says. “We know exercise can help with that, and now we know that part of that may be because of its effect on our telomeres.”

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Etiology of the High Rise Bundle

From time to time, I field questions about the legacy of the various events or tasks that comprise the Firefighter Combat Challenge®. 

For about 20 years now, I’ve been seeking a solution for the high rise bundle that would make it impervious to inclement weather. There are fabric treatments, especially the one produced by Rust-Oleum. Untreated, the 42 pound bundle can soak up four pounds of water. Rather than attempt to make changes during the season, we determined that the Winter of ’16-17 would be the best time to effect the upgrade. 

For those of you at FDIC last week, you saw the 4” rubber-jacketed high-rise bundle. We started with four steel bands, but have determined that we can probably reduce the number by moving them more to the center. Because rubber jacketed hose is more dense, the actual volume is less. 

I’ve weighed packs all over the country. Whether you call them hotel or hospital bundles, or whatever, they’re intended use is for interior fire suppression by hooking up to the riser system. Typically, the bundle includes spanner wrenches, reducer or gated wye and a nozzle. Forty-two pounds is pretty much on the light side. But, I’m interested in what the weight and configuration is at your station. 

Send me photos and descriptions to: Dr.Paul

We’ll continue to tweak the bundle to get the most optimal ergonomics- flexible and conforming to your shoulder, falling naturally such that it stays put when you're climbing.