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.

Monday, March 19, 2018

How exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining

Fergus Walsh, Medical Correspondent, BBC

Doing lots of exercise in older age can prevent the immune system from declining and protect people against infections, scientists say.

They followed 125 long-distance cyclists, some now in their 80s, and found they had the immune systems of 20-year-olds.

Prof Norman Lazarus, 82, of King's College London, who took part in and co-authored the research, said: "If exercise was a pill, everyone would be taking it.

"It has wide-ranging benefits for the body, the mind, for our muscles and our immune system."

The research was published in the journal Aging Cell.

Prof Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, at the University of Birmingham, and co-author of the research, said: "The immune system declines by about 2-3% a year from our 20s, which is why older people are more susceptible to infections, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and, potentially, cancer.

"Because the cyclists have the immune system of a 20-year-old rather than a 70- or 80-year-old, it means they have added protection against all these issues."

The researchers looked at markers in the blood for T-cells, which help the immune system respond to new infections.

These are produced in the thymus, a gland in the chest, which normally shrinks in size in adulthood.

Out of puff

They found that the endurance cyclists were producing the same level of T-cells as adults in their 20s, whereas a group of inactive older adults were producing very few.

The researchers believe that being physically active in old age will help people respond better to vaccines, and so be better protected against infections such as flu.

Steve Harridge, co-author and professor of physiology at King's College London, said: "Being sedentary goes against evolution because humans are designed to be physically active.

One elderly cyclist said he had the body fat of a 19-year-old

"You don't need to be a competitive athlete to reap the benefits - or be an endurance cyclist - anything which gets you moving and a little bit out of puff will help."

Prof Harridge and Prof Lazarus believe that highly physically active older people represent the perfect group in which to analyze the true effects of biological ageing.

A separate paper in Aging Cell found that the cyclists did not lose muscle mass or strength, and did not see an increase in body fat - which are usually associated with ageing.

I met a dozen of the cyclists, on a morning ride in Surrey. Despite the bitter cold, they were universally cheerful, and clearly used to riding in all weathers.

They are members of Audax, a long-distance cycling organization that organizes events ranging from 100km to 300km.

The older members - in their 80s - say they do only the "short" 100km (62-mile) rides, but this is still highly impressive.

So why do they do it?

Pam Jones, 79, told me: "I do it for my health, because it's sociable, and because I enjoy the freedom it gives you."

Brian Matkins, 82, said: "One of the first results I got from the medical study was I was told my body fat was comparable to that of a 19-year-old."

Aged just 64, Jim Woods, is a comparative youngster in the group. He averages 100 miles a week on his bike, with more during the summer.

He said: "I cycle for a sense of wellbeing and to enjoy our wonderful countryside."

Cycling 60 miles or more may not be your idea of fun, but these riders have found something that gives them pleasure, which is a key reason why they continue.

Monday, March 5, 2018

What is the Most Accurate Predictor of Early Death?

Let us ask you perhaps the biggest question in the medical world:
What’s the most accurate predictor of early death?

If you’re not sure - you’re not alone...
Because for decades, this “longevity question” has stumped top labs across the country, leading many in the science community to call this the “holy grail” of our research... but thanks to an incredible new study, it turns out the “true indicator” of a long, healthy life may have finally been cracked.

Because your REAL age might be predicted inside your cells. You see, researchers at Ohio State University conducted a wide-scale human study on a very specific biological marker inside all of us -
They’re called telomeres.

Telomeres are the genetic “caps” on your DNA, responsible for holding together the entire blueprint of you. Think of telomeres like the plastic cap on a shoelace. Over time, as the cap becomes frayed, that shoelace begins to unravel.

Well, your telomeres work the same way - only as they wear down, it’s your DNA that begins to unravel. And when your DNA begins to unravel, you can experience declining health and rapid aging.

So with this in mind, the researchers tested people of similar age and gender... but with varying degrees of health. And amazingly, they discovered that although all his test subjects were the same age - there was actually one MAJOR difference inside them:

The group with worse health had SIGNIFICANTLY shorter telomeres. 1.
And some scientists believe the main culprit of shorter telomeres was “cellular stress.”

This is VERY important. Because when left unchecked, this stress could eat away at your telomeres, leading to:
• Excess weight gain
• Low energy
• Sore muscles and achy joints
• And worst of all, perhaps vastly reduced longevity...

In fact, the people in this study with the most cellular stress had literally aged 9 years more than their counterparts on the cellular level... even though they were the exact same age.2

Which is why you’ve probably noticed how some people in their 80s look perfectly healthy, while others as young as 40 can already seem so old...

It’s not necessarily the number of years you’ve been alive that determines your healthy lifespan... Some of it is actually the amount of cellular stress inside you.


1. Damjanovic AK, Yang Y, Glaser R et al. Accelerated telomere erosion is associated with a declining immune function of caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients. J Immunol 2007;179:4249-54.

2. Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc. 2008;11:50-6.

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.


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