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
Firefighter/Paramedic
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