Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Origins of the Firefighter Combat Challenge

From time to time, the question comes to me, be it in a TV interview, or just a new Competitor: “Where did this (meaning the Firefighter Combat Challenge®) come from?” 

Short answer: “This is the only federally funded, University-based, occupational physiology research study that became an international touring and televised sport.”

The Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health was the recipient of a grant from the predecessor of FEMA.  

In cooperation with the Fire Training Officer’s sub-committee of the Greater Washington DC Council of Governments (GOG) I conducted a JTA (job task analysis). This is the process whereby essential functions of the position (firefighter) are identified and quantified. Our criteria were a search for arduous, frequently performed or critical tasks. Critical means that failure could result in injury or death. 

The validity of the five linked tasks is evident with the world-wide acceptance and promulgation of the Challenge. There are professional and legal standards that must be met to withstand the rigor of publication in peer-reviewed journals. The results of our study were published in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise).  But beyond a competition, the higher standard is being able to defend against legal challenges when the arduous nature of the profession has a disparate impact on “protected classes.” 

And then there’s a lot of steps from a research study to the development of a copyrighted, trademarked competition and all of the intricacies associated with over 60,000 participants spanning nearly three decades. 

While imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is disconcerting when your intellectual property is hijacked and represented to be the creation of their own. Simply stated, there is no form of firefighter testing or competition involving a tower, forcible entry, hose advance and a victim rescue that is not a derivative of the Firefighter Combat Challenge®. 

My vision for the Challenge is that there is only one right way to run this event. When people start to change the fundamentals, we lose respect for the objectivity of the event. There’s only one 440 yard dash and the performance time has universal credibility.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Augustine’s Laws

Augustine's laws were a series of tongue in cheek aphorisms put forth by Norman Ralph Augustine, an American aerospace businessman who served as Under Secretary of the Army from 1975 to 1977. In 1984 he published his laws.

I enjoyed the humor, and thought that you might as well...

Law Number I: The best way to make a silk purse from a sow's ear is to begin with a silk sow. The same is true of money.

Law Number II: If today were half as good as tomorrow is supposed to be, it would probably be twice as good as yesterday was.

Law Number III: There are no lazy veteran lion hunters.

Law Number IV: If you can afford to advertise, you don't need to.

Law Number V: One-tenth of the participants produce over one-third of the output. Increasing the number of participants merely reduces the average output.

Law Number VI: A hungry dog hunts best. A hungrier dog hunts even better.

Law Number VII: Decreased business base increases overhead. So does increased business base.

Law Number VIII: The most unsuccessful four years in the education of a cost-estimator is fifth-grade arithmetic.

Law Number IX: Acronyms and abbreviations should be used to the maximum extent possible to make trivial ideas profound...Q.E.D.

Law Number X: Bulls do not win bullfights; people do. People do not win people fights; lawyers do.

Law Number XI: If the Earth could be made to rotate twice as fast, managers would get twice as much done. If the Earth could be made to rotate twenty times as fast, everyone else would get twice as much done since all the managers would fly off.

Law Number XII: It costs a lot to build bad products.

Law Number XIII: There are many highly successful businesses in the United States. There are also many highly paid executives. The policy is not to intermingle the two.

Law Number XIV: After the year 2015, there will be no airplane crashes. There will be no takeoffs either, because electronics will occupy 100 percent of every airplane's weight.

Law Number XV: The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems.

Law Number XVI: In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft. This aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy 3-1/2 days each per week except for leap year when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.

Law Number XVII: Software is like entropy. It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics; i.e., it always increases.

Law Number XVIII: It is very expensive to achieve high unreliability. It is not uncommon to increase the cost of an item by a factor of ten for each factor of ten degradation accomplished.

Law Number XIX: Although most products will soon be too costly to purchase, there will be a thriving market in the sale of books on how to fix them.

Law Number XX: In any given year, Congress will appropriate the amount of funding approved the prior year plus three-fourths of whatever change the administration requests, minus 4-percent tax.

Law Number XXI: It's easy to get a loan unless you need it.

Law Number XXII: If stock market experts were so expert, they would be buying stock, not selling advice.

Law Number XXIII: Any task can be completed in only one-third more time than is currently estimated.

Law Number XXIV: The only thing more costly than stretching the schedule of an established project is accelerating it, which is itself the most costly action known to man.

Law Number XXV: A revised schedule is to business what a new season is to an athlete or a new canvas to an artist.

Law Number XXVI: If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.

Law Number XXVII: Rank does not intimidate hardware. Neither does the lack of rank.

Law Number XXVIII: It is better to be the reorganizer than the reorganizee.

Law Number XXIX: Executives who do not produce successful results hold on to their jobs only about five years. Those who produce effective results hang on about half a decade.

Law Number XXX: By the time the people asking the questions are ready for the answers, the people doing the work have lost track of the questions.

Law Number XXXI: The optimum committee has no members.

Law Number XXXII: Hiring consultants to conduct studies can be an excellent means of turning problems into gold, your problems into their gold.

Law Number XXXIII: Fools rush in where incumbents fear to tread.

Law Number XXXIV: The process of competitively selecting contractors to perform work is based on a system of rewards and penalties, all distributed randomly.

Law Number XXXV: The weaker the data available upon which to base one's conclusion, the greater the precision which should be quoted in order to give the data authenticity.

Law Number XXXVI: The thickness of the proposal required to win a multimillion dollar contract is about one millimeter per million dollars. If all the proposals conforming to this standard were piled on top of each other at the bottom of the Grand Canyon it would probably be a good idea.

Law Number XXXVII: Ninety percent of the time things will turn out worse than you expect. The other 10 percent of the time you had no right to expect so much.

Law Number XXXVIII: The early bird gets the worm. The early worm...gets eaten.

Law Number XXXIX: Never promise to complete any project within six months of the end of the year, in either direction.

Law Number XL: Most projects start out slowly, and then sort of taper off.

Law Number XLI: The more one produces, the less one gets.

Law Number XLII: Simple systems are not feasible because they require infinite testing.

Law Number XLIII: Hardware works best when it matters the least.

Law Number XLIV: Aircraft flight in the 21st century will always be in a westerly direction, preferably supersonic, crossing time zones to provide the additional hours needed to fix the broken electronics.

Law Number XLV: One should expect that the expected can be prevented, but the unexpected should have been expected.

Law Number XLVI: A billion saved is a billion earned.

Law Number XLVII: Two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered with water. The other third is covered with auditors from headquarters.

Law Number XLVIII: The more time you spend talking about what you have been doing, the less time you have to spend doing what you have been talking about. Eventually, you spend more and more time talking about less and less until finally you spend all your time talking about nothing.

Law Number XLIX: Regulations grow at the same rate as weeds.

Law Number L: The average regulation has a life span one-fifth as long as a chimpanzee's and one-tenth as long as a human's, but four times as long as the official's who created it.

Law Number LI: By the time of the United States Tricentennial, there will be more government workers than there are workers.

Law Number LII: People working in the private sector should try to save money. There remains the possibility that it may someday be valuable again.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

13th Annual Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge®

Dateline: September 6 & 7, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

Over 300 firefighters from 11 countries descended on the visitor center of Berlin for two great days of racing. 

Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Poland, Slovenia, UK, Iran, Italy, Luxemburg, and Belgium were represented in the most impressive of walk-ons. 

But, the races were even more impressive. Under the management and direction of Mike Weikamm, Berlin Fire Brigade, Individual, Tandem and Relay racers took to the course and performed admirably for thousands of locals and tourists.

Friday’s weather could not have been better; nearly cloudless skies with an ambient temperature hovering around 70°F. Saturday, while overcast, saw temps in the mid 60’s. So, overheating was not an issue. 

Two videos are available for your viewing pleasure. One of the multiple sub-90-second runs, and the Relay Championship between Slovenia and Lion’s Den Germany. 

An update to this post will take place once the final results have been posted on the Official website

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Our Salute to Tommy Sadler at the Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island

Our competitors recognized the late, great Tommy Sadler on Saturday, August 31, 2019, after the competition with a push-up fest and salutary comments. Here’s a nice piece by the NBC local affiliate.

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Firefighter Combat Challenge®

I’ve addressed this topic before, and it’s time to revisit the implications of the DCMA for our background music playlist. Every artist that wants to make a living through their music has been afforded protection by Congress under the DCMA.

Meaning, that every song that you hear on the radio or TV is protected from piracy. Like it or not, the original artist, songwriter, producer “owns” their original work. Or can sell the rights to another agency.

When we play music in a public place, we are obligated to report and pay a use fee. As you might imagine, this can not only become expensive, but confusing since there are many agencies representing the millions of tunes available for downloading through a host of servers.

While we do not proffer our soundtrack as the reason for attending the Firefighter Combat Challenge®, it does add a certain ambiance to the show.

The consequences of violating the DMCA can be very expensive. Fines levied can be in the thousands of dollars, notwithstanding the fact that morally, it’s theft.

So, if you hear someone complaining that we’re playing “unlicensed” music [royalty-free tunes in the public domain], kindly explain that we don’t make the laws and ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

We have been recruiting garage bands, looking for exposure, offering free use of their repertoire. If you know any musician that would like to donate sports-appropriate tracks, have them contact Rob O’Connor.

We’re always happy to provide a platform for budding artists.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Retro-Reflective/Fluorescent Material Color and Pattern Choices

One of the most underrated safety devices on emergency vehicles may well be a retro-reflective/fluorescent tape. It is always visible, requires no electrical power, adds negligible weight and is highly cost-effective.

The retro-reflective portion works only at night and is energized by oncoming lights from other vehicles. The fluorescent portion works only during daytime (from dawn till dusk) and is activated by the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

While the retro-reflective/fluorescent products are available in many colors, several stand out from the rest. The most visible colors, day and night, are yellow and lime-yellow, with lime-yellow having the safety advantage because of visual impact.

When considering chevron pairs, offering a contrast to lime-yellow is the red stripe. The result is lime-yellow, offset by red, is the most visible and safest of the chevron color choices and offers superior attention-getting responses. This fluorescent lime-yellow and red chevron pattern should be used on all emergency vehicles that use chevrons, regardless of service branch.

Why not white? While white can be measured as reflecting light, it does not have the brightness of lime-yellow or yellow. White does not attract attention. Pairing red and white in a chevron pattern is not as safe as the lime-yellow/red choice.

Around the clock, the fluorescent lime-yellow/red chevron choices are the highest rated. And either day or night, those tape applications that are free of dirt are most effective.

Picking patterns

In addition to the selection of color, the patterns selected are of prime importance. The large-area chevron pattern on the rear is the standard but more attention needs to be paid to the overall patterns on the sides of vehicles. While logos are popular, they do not provide enough visual information relating to the outline of the vehicle.

Especially at night, it is important to use enough retro-reflective material to offer a general outline of the sides of the vehicle. This gives a high level of information to the oncoming driver. Currently, a civilian driver sees a horizontal band along the beltline, and this is insufficient, even if it exhibits ribbon-like artwork, emblems or EKG waves.

Emblems, logos, images and company insignia are all fine as long as they are not used as a replacement for the outline tape.

By providing additional material horizontally along the upper and lower edges of the cab and chassis, the outline of the vehicle becomes apparent. They do not have to be solid lines but rather can be segmented. Our brain can add in the missing details to make it appear complete.

Why is tape color, rear chevrons and overall vehicle tape outline so important? They provide the oncoming driver with additional visual information, both day and night, in fog and smoke, and weather-induced poor visibility, because it improves reaction time. This provides for a safer driving and accident-avoidance response. The importance of improved reaction time should not be underestimated as is a vital component of emergency vehicle highway safety.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

God is Watching...

The children were filling their lunch trays at the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school.  At the head of the food line was a pile of apples upon which a nun had posted a note reading: “Take only one.  God is watching.”

At the opposite end of the table was a pile of chocolate chip cookies and a second note, this one posted by a fourth grader, reading: “Take all you want.  God is watching the apples.”

Friday, July 5, 2019

Anybody Recognize any of these Guys?

This is a photo taken at our 2nd World Challenge Championsihp, inside the Reunion Arena in Dallas, commensurate with the annual meeting of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The date is sometime in the fall of 1993.

We're trying to track down the people in the photo, some of whom are deceased. If you recognize anyone, send me their name and position in the photo.

Challenge Event Staff, 2nd Year (1993), Reunion Arena, Dallas Texas

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Sugar substitutes: Is one better or worse for diabetes? For weight loss? An expert explains

Jamie PitlickAssociate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Drake University

Wandering through the grocery store, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the numerous brands and health claims on the dozens of sugar substitutes. It can be particularly confusing for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes who must keep their blood sugar in check and control their weight.

With the growing diabetes and obesity epidemic, there has been increasing awareness around the use of added sugars in foods. The most recent edition of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that added sugars should be kept to less than 10% of the calories consumed, which turns out to be roughly 270 calories per day.

This is because “added sugars” add sweetness or flavor but add very little nutritional value. Because of this trend, the food industry has embarked on a quest to find or develop the perfect substitute to replace sugar – with the same taste and none of the calories that lead to weight gain.

As a pharmacist who is also board certified in advanced diabetes management, I talk to patients every day about blood sugars and ways to help them take control of their diabetes. They often ask me whether the perfect substitute to sugar has been found. The short answer is no. Here is the long answer.

Many artificial sweeteners are available at the grocery store. Zety Akhzar/Shutterstock.com
Sugar alcohols
Sugar substitutes can be categorized into two main groups: sugar alcohols and high-intensity sweeteners. The sugar alcohols include sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, mannitol, erythritol and maltitol. High-intensity sweeteners include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, advantame, stevia, and Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle fruit extract (SGFE).

Sugar alcohols are often found in toothpaste, chewing gum, and some “sugar-free” foods. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that resembles sugar, but also the components that make them an alcohol. They are about 25-100% sweeter than sugar and have a similar taste. But here is the catch: They are not calorie free. Most have between 1.5 and two calories per gram. Now compare the calorie count to sugar, also known as sucrose, which has four calories per gram – twice as much.

Which foods have a low glycemic index and are better choices for those trying to control their blood sugar. Irina Izograf

Although sugar alcohols contain fewer calories, they will still increase a patient’s blood sugar, especially when eaten in excess. When compared to sugar, the effect is less dramatic though. This is because of how these molecules are processed in the body. We measure this using the glycemic index.

The glycemic index is a reference to how quickly a food is broken down and absorbed. The higher the number, the more quickly the food breaks down and the faster the sugar goes into the blood. Sucrose has a glycemic index of 65; whereas sugar alcohols, like xylitol, have a glycemic index of around seven. This means that sugar alcohols are harder to digest, and cause a slower and lower increase in post-meal blood sugars – which is typically better for people with diabetes. Because sugar alcohols are harder for the body to break down though, some of them remain in the gut, and if a person consumes too much they may experience digestive complaints like gas, cramping and diarrhea.

Here is the other downside to foods containing sugar alcohols: They often have higher quantities of fat or salt to make up for the lower sugar content.
Artificial sweeteners

High-intensity sweeteners, are zero- or low-calorie alternatives to sugar. They are made from a variety of sources, and are 100 to 20,000 times as sweet as sugar. Some leave a bitter or metallic taste behind. Two newer substitutes – stevia and SGFE – come from plants and are at times referred to as “natural” substitutes.

According to the American Diabetes Association 2019 guidelines, the use of high-intensity sweeteners may decrease calorie and carbohydrate intake. However, you cannot replace these “free” calories with calories from other food sources, you will lose or the benefits on blood sugar control and weight loss.

Researchers have seen this in some of the studies on high-intensity sweeteners. Some of the trials show no difference or even a possible increase in weight. But in other studies where intake of food is better regulated and patients don’t replace these free calories with other high-caloric foods, the weight loss is maintained.
The takeaway

All sugar substitutes are labeled as food additives and are under the regulation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The latest trend has been labeling some of the sugar substitutes as “derived from plants” or “natural.” That does not necessarily mean that these are safer or more effective in blood sugar control or weight loss. If it is used in excess, side effects such as bloating or diarrhea may still result.

Several concerns by researchers have been raised about high-intensity sweeteners – saccharin and aspartame – and cancer. To date, the National Cancer Institute has concluded that there is no clear evidence that any of the high-intensity sweeteners is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

As a pharmacist specializing in advanced diabetes, I talk to patients every day about how to control their blood sugar level and their diabetes. There are three main ways to do that: medication, increased activity and diet. The last two are probably more important in the long run.

If diet and activity level never change, it is really hard to help patients bring their blood sugars down. Medication after medication will likely have to be added. With this comes the potential for side effects. So if I can persuade patients to make changes to their diet, like switching to a beverage with a sugar substitute, it makes a huge difference in helping to control blood sugars and the dose of medications.

The overall focus for diabetes management should be on reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods. If you can switch one of these sugar-sweetened products to a food that has a high-intensity sugar substitute, that is better. But best of all is consuming food and drinks that are not highly processed and do not have added sugars.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Polar Breeze in Orlando

We had our first exposure to the Polar Breeze® product during the unusually hot week in Orlando. The Rehab Tent was outfitted with several of these machines and accompanying hoods that deliver cold air (35°F- below ambient) that rapidly cools an overheated competitor.

Since you’ve got the equivalent of 750 square feet of surface area (in the average adult male), you can dump a lot more heat through your lungs than by placing cold towels on your neck or wrists.

Post-race Firefighter Combat Challenge Competitors drop heat in the Rehab Tent while donning the Polar Breeze hoods
We’re interested in any comments that you may wish to offer by sending an email.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The New Boss

Arcelor-Mittal Steel, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO. The new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers.

On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business. He asked the guy, "How much money do you make a week?"

A little surprised, the young man looked at him and said, "I make $400 a week. Why?"

The CEO said, "Wait right here." He walked back to his office, came back in two minutes, and handed the guy $1,600 in cash and said, "Here's four weeks' pay. Now GET OUT and don't come back."

Feeling pretty good about himself the CEO looked around the room and asked, "Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?"

From across the room a voice said, "Pizza delivery guy from Dominoes."

Friday, June 7, 2019

Preventative and Remedial Maintenance

Time and distance takes its toll. Sometimes repairs have to be made on the spot. Other times, when we have a respite, we can fix stuff.

Here's a couple of examples.

Carpets take a brutal toll with Rescue Randy being dragged hundreds of miles. The Road Crew has all of the equipment to do patches and fix seams.
Roger, Joey, Jim and Daniel apply their skills to joining the broken seam in Orlando

The aluminium handrails, replaceing the original steel ones do fracture and require welding with Argon gas.

Mark Bailey of Metal Specialities is fixing a fatigue crack on one of the tower handrails

Brent Davis is using a piece of sheet metal to stop the breeze from blowing out the Argon gas

Mark is grinding off the surplus slag after fixing the crack

Friday, May 24, 2019

Daniel’s Helmet has been Restored

For all of you who made a contribution to Daniel’s helmet, you’ll be pleased to know that Matt Baca led the effort to have a replacement after the original was stolen from the trunk of his car in Baltimore

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

First-ever ACSM Challenge Cup

Next week, at the Orange County Convention Center (Florida), the American College of Sports Medicine's 66th Annual Meeting will feature the 3M | Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®.

Here's the information from the flyer

Join us for the first-ever  
ASCM Challenge Cup!

All exhibitors are urged to create a 3-5 person Relay Team to
participate in the 3M | Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®.

The full course will be set up on the parking lot of the Rosen Centre,
adjacent to Hall A of the Orange County Convention Center.

Starting Tuesday morning, you can reserve a 30 minute practice
and trial slot by meeting us on the course or signing up at our display
in the Lobby.

Based upon your best seeding time between Tuesday - Thursday,
the top 32 teams will face off Thursday night in a NCAA-style single
elimination bracket.

• No registration fees • Helmets and gloves provided • Bring your own athletic gear 

There is a walkway between Hall A and the Orange County Convention Center
and the Rosen. The Firefighter Combat Challenge will be held on the
parking lot that is due South of the Hotel and North of I-4.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Annual Meeting, National Association of Sport Commissions

I’m here in Knoxville for the NASC meeting, where CVBs (Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus) convene to match venues with sports properties such as our own.

The opening session was hosted at the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Field.

Here’s a panoramic view of the inside of the stadium.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Yogurt & Diabetes

Dr. Suzanne’s Newsletter

Dairy is a confusing topic for many people, and so many "gurus" out there make things even more confusing with contradicting advice for the average person simply trying to eat healthy and improve their health. But in this email, I want to briefly talk about yogurt and the effect on your blood sugar and a few studies in relation to type 2 diabetes as well...

In a report published in 2014, by Frank Hu, a Harvard researcher, included about 459,000 participants in 3 studies, and showed that yogurt intake was associated with a 17% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk.

However, it's important to note that the type of yogurt must NOT be sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened yogurt... It's vitally important to eat PLAIN, FULL-FAT yogurt (grass-fed preferably) for the most benefits.

Sweetened yogurts will do more harm than good, but a good plain full-fat yogurt has relatively low amounts of natural sugars, while also containing high quality protein and healthy fats, both of which help to control your blood sugar levels, appetite, and balance hormones. In addition, the beneficial probiotics in a good plain full-fat yogurt help to improve gut health, and can benefit diabetics in many ways due to improved digestive health. 

To make your plain full-fat yogurt taste better if you like things a little sweeter, just add a little stevia or monk fruit sweetener, and a handful of fresh or frozen berries and maybe some pumpkin seeds or nuts for a delicious and balanced lunch or snack that keeps blood sugar controlled and boosts fat loss too.

And speaking of blood sugar & diabetes... If you think that Type 2 Diabetes is irreversible like many misinformed doctors will tell you, then you need to read some of the proof below on how to naturally reverse Type 2 Diabetes... Although eating "paleo" or even low-carb is a good first step, you’ll also see below other techniques on just how simple it can be to “fix” your diabetes, control your blood sugars, and lose all of that excess fat sitting on your stomach.

1 Simple trick to REVERSE your Diabetes, naturally (while getting off drugs AND reducing abdominal fat too)

To your health,


Friday, April 19, 2019

Lloyd, Les, Ron and Paul’s Great Adventure

If you’re interested in knowing more about the River Thames in England, you might find this link fascinating.

Ron&Lloyd&Less&Pauls Great Adventure

While studying abroad in 1964-5, I and my fellow students decided to explore the river via canoe- from the source to London.

The PowerPoint presentation, created by Les Pitton has been uploaded as HTML.

Lacking GoreTex, Neoprene, Polypro, and real kayaks, we settled for fiberglass covered birch canoes, weighing in a 150 pounds.

By the account of the last lock keeper on the River, the last guy who had done this trip was a US Airman during WWII; but he started in Cricklade, missing the great fun of hauling his canoe over lad about 11 miles.

Friday, April 5, 2019

How about this statistic?

Smoking isn't the biggest global health threat. Bad diets are. A new study published in the Lancet reviewed the diets of people living in 195 countries and found that some 800 million people around the world can't get enough to eat while 1.9 billion people weigh too much.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The World's six best doctors...worth reading twice

While this essay was wrongly attributed to Steve Jobs, it’s still a pretty good mantra for life...meaning, you would spend everything you have to get your health back, assuming that money was no object. No one is guaranteed happiness. The Declaration of Independence warrants the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right.  Read on.

I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In some others' eyes, my life is the epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, my wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to. At this moment, lying on my bed and recalling my life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in have paled and become meaningless in the face of my death.

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone bear your sickness for you. Material things lost can be found or replaced. But there is one thing that can never be found when it's lost - Life. Whichever stage in life you are in right now, with time, you will face the day when the curtain comes down.

Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat yourself well and cherish others. As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, we realize that a $300 or a $30 watch both tell the same time. You will realize that your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world. Whether you fly first class or economy, if the plane goes down - you go down with it.

Therefore, I hope you realize, when you have mates, buddies and old friends, brothers and sisters, who you chat with, laugh with, talk with, have sing songs with, talk about north-south-east-west or heaven and earth, that is true happiness! Don't educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. So when they grow up they will know the value of things and not the price. Eat your food as your medicine, otherwise you have to eat medicine as your food.

The one who loves you will never leave you for another because, even if there are 100 reasons to give up, he or she will find a reason to hold on. There is a big difference between a human being and being human. Only a few really understand it. You are loved when you are born. You will be loved when you die. In between, you have to manage!

"The six best doctors in the world are sunlight, rest, exercise, diet, self-confidence and friends. Maintain them in all stages and enjoy a healthy life."

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Beet Juice Seen Aiding Athletic Performance

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega
Science Journalist
Carnitine, chromium, anabolic steroids: Athletes have experimented with a broad array of aids in pursuit of performance edge. A popular — if unglamorous — one today that seems safe and backed by solid data: the juice of beets, for the nitrates they contain.

Inorganic nitrate is added to cured and processed meats to extend their shelf life and give them their distinctive pink color. It’s also naturally found in spinach, arugula and beets. In the past decade, new evidence has suggested that the nitrate in these vegetables enhances athletic performance and may also increase cardiovascular health in old age.

The first clue came in 2007, when Swedish researchers reported that three days of sodium nitrate supplementation lowered the oxygen demand of nine cyclists and triathletes as they worked out, compared with a placebo of table salt. It also increased the blood plasma levels of nitrite, a byproduct of nitrate. That study caught the eye of exercise physiologist Andrew Jones of the University of Exeter in England. Usually, the oxygen demand of exercise is fixed, he says, so for a short-term intervention to change that “was unusual.”

Although it wasn’t clear how nitrate was doing what it did, Jones knew that green leafy vegetables and beets were rich sources. So he conducted a study, reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology, giving eight men active in recreational sports an equivalent amount of nitrate in a natural food source: beet juice. The volunteers consumed either 500 ml (17 ounces) of beet juice or a blackcurrant drink — which has negligible amounts of nitrate — every day for six days. Then, after a break of 10 days, the groups were switched around and drank the other drink for an additional six days.

By the last three days of the six, nitrate concentration in the blood of those drinking beet juice was almost doubled and their systolic blood pressure (which measures the pressure in your blood vessels as your heart beats) fell by an average of 6 points. The oxygen cost — the amount of oxygen consumed — when they exercised on a stationary bicycle was reduced by 19 percent. “When we asked them to continue to exercise to exhaustion, they were able to go longer,” recalls Jones, who co-wrote a review on dietary nitrates in the 2018 Annual Review of Nutrition.

From then on, research on beet juice, beet juice concentrates, whole beets and nitrate salts started to pour in.

From food to fuel
Nitrate itself doesn’t do much in the body. It first has to be converted to nitric oxide, a gas with numerous physiological roles — in blood vessel dilation, muscle contraction and transmission of nerve signals, among others. People obtain that nitric oxide in two ways: either through the action of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase, which catalyzes the amino acid L-arginine to produce it, or from nitrate ingested in food.

In the second case, dietary nitrate is first reduced to nitrite by bacteria in our mouths (athletes are counseled to avoid mouthwash, toothpaste and antibiotics before these kinds of studies). And then, over the next several hours, some of the nitrite is further reduced to nitric oxide in the gut. Nitrite also enters the blood and bodily tissues, where it is enzymatically reduced to nitric oxide.

Scientists know that this second route is enhanced under conditions when there is not enough oxygen in muscles, and when acid builds up — exactly what happens in skeletal muscle when it contracts constantly during exercise. So they hypothesize that this pathway is particularly important during exercise as a backup system to ensure that enough nitric oxide gets made in muscles and other tissues.

Once in skeletal muscle, nitric oxide can do several things. It can improve the efficiency of muscle contraction and of energy generation by mitochondria. Both of these could contribute to the lowered oxygen cost of exercise. So could the gas’s property of dilating blood vessels, as it increases blood flow to muscle.

Passing the test
Studies testing the effects of dietary nitrate in different sports are piling up. Beet juice is the preferred method of administration, since it’s a fluid and measuring the nitrate levels in it is easy. (“It’s just more convenient,” Jones says.)

In a 2011 study, for example, Jones and his team asked nine competitive male cyclists to drink 500 ml (about 17 ounces) of beetroot juice containing almost 400 mg of nitrate, 2.5 hours before starting a 4 km (about 2.5 miles) or 16.1 km (10 miles) cycling endurance test. Researchers found that the men who drank beet juice improved their performance by 2.8 percent in both tests, compared to men who drank a nitrate-depleted beet juice.

In another study, from 2015, Australian researchers gave five professional female kayakers two 70 ml (2.4 ounces) shots of beet juice, each containing about 300 mg of nitrate, two hours before a test involving kayaking one-third of a mile. Compared with a placebo, the rowers who drank beet juice improved their performance by 1.7 percent.

After many such experiments, mainly in runners and cyclists, researchers have concluded that nitrate supplementation lowers the oxygen demand of exercise and improves performance in endurance sports. They find that beet juice is most effective when drank two to three hours before exercise, and, in general, that 300 to 500 milligrams (500 mg is a bit more than two cups) of inorganic nitrate is enough to provide a 1 to 3 percent improvement in performance — significant enough to give a serious athlete a competitive edge. Solid vegetables, although they’re not generally used in such studies, can be effective, too; beetroot and spinach contain about 250 mg of nitrate per 3.5 ounces of produce.

“What intrigues me the most, I think, is the fact that a simple dietary intervention can have these significant effects,” says Andrew Coggan, an exercise physiologist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “And then to think that is having a direct and quantifiable impact on our muscle function is rather striking.”

While the immediate effects of nitrate on endurance are clear, researchers don’t yet know whether steadily drinking beet juice over days has stronger effects. So far, the evidence is mixed.

Researchers are also eager to know whether the juice offers an edge in other types of “explosive” sports, where power and strength are key. Sports nutrition researcher Raúl Domínguez, from the University Isabel I in Spain, recently found that about 2.4 ounces of beet juice concentrate improved the performance of 15 volunteers in a 30-second cycling sprint. Although there’s still more work to be done, “it seems that we can use it in all modalities,” Domínguez says.
The business side of beets
Although the flavor’s not to everyone’s taste (Coggan refers to it as “sweet dirt”), the hype for beet juice has grown with every new study, and one can find plenty of beet juices, concentrates, energy bars, capsules and powders that promise, or imply, enhanced performance. The International Olympic Committee’s acknowledgment last year that beet juice is a sports food with good scientific evidence to back it — along with other ergogenic aids, or endurance enhancing supplements, such as caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate — have only fueled beet juice enthusiasm.

But because these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, consumers can’t know for sure how much nitrate they contain. Last year, Coggan and an undergraduate assistant tested 24 products, from powders to concentrates and bulk juice, and found that only five contained effective levels of nitrates.

Not just for athletes
Dietary nitrate has done more than start a little revolution in the sports world. Now scientists are looking at its effect in other populations, too.

Coggan says that after he read about the studies with athletes, he thought: “If there was any patient population out there that could benefit from getting the most bang from their buck, it would be heart-failure patients.”

Could beet juice enhance the heart’s ability to deliver oxygen-carrying blood, and help keep the skeletal muscle strong, in such patients? Nitric oxide levels are lower than normal in heart-failure patients, and the scientists suspected that raising NO levels might improve function of both muscle types.

When Coggan and colleagues tested this idea in a 2015 study, they found that giving beet juice to nine patients with heart failure increased the nitric oxide levels in their breath by as much as 50 percent and their knee muscle power by as much as 11 percent. That difference might potentially improve patients’ quality of life by enabling them to more easily perform day-to-day activities such as getting out of a chair. Researchers are now looking at the potential therapeutic benefits of dietary nitrate in elderly people, as well as those who have diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

For Coggan, the fact that a single component of a healthy diet can have such a clear effect is startling: “And then you start to wonder about — well, what other components of our diet are having measurable effects, and people just haven’t made the link yet?”

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Medals Are Here!

Third in a series, this year's medal is a depiction of the first event/task, the High-Rise, Stair Climb.

All the ribbons will be white, with red and blue treatment of the 3M | Scott Safety Firefighter Combat Challenge® logos. The Red and Blue ribbons did not work out well last year for obvious reasons.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Must Be Present to Win!: The Return of SKB Cases

We are pleased to announce that SKB Cases has renewed their sponsorship for the 2019 Tour Season. They were impressed with the response that they got from our Competitors from last year's events. 

Saying "Please" and "Thank-you" has been a validated formula for success. So, this year, our Top Ten receipients will be receiving the SKB TSA-approved lock set. And everyone in attendance will be eligible to win an SKB Gun or Bow shipping case pictured below. 

Email instructions will accompany each of the prizes and we highly encourage everyone to express their appreciation for supporting the 3M | Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge. 

Our Rules and Procedures will be as follows: 

1. All competitors on the day of the drawing will automatically be entered and assigned a number printed on the drawing ticket. (There is a matched ticked that will be placed in the drum)

2. Attendees will be able to register for the drawing by visiting the Combat Zone Sales Trailer. 

3. At the conclusion of the day's competition Awards Ceremony, the MC will draw a number from the drum. The number will be announced three times. 

4. If there is no respondent for 30 seconds after the reading of the number, another number will be drawn and so on, until a winner is identified. 

5. The winning ticket must be presented for redemption. 

Hanna Oh displays the SKB Rifle/Bow Hunting case that will be given away at the Awards Ceremony

All of our Top Ten winners will receive the SKB TSA-approved luggage combination locks

Monday, February 25, 2019

Refresh Your Biography Information

One of the important off-season tasks has been the overhauling of the competitor biography information database.

We have expunged all of the data and will start afresh this season. Clearly, some of the archival data were dated.

It is our intention to use everyone's biography once they step out on the course. You earned it.

Think of it this way: a batter steps into the box. What about this guy do I want to know? What would make him interesting? What drives her to compete.

We don't need a long narrative. But what about you do you think people might find to be interesting?

How many runs on the course? What's your personal best? Do you have a personal goal.

The announcer will have access to your Lion's Den membership- when you made it and where.

This "baseball card" synopsis will add interest for everyone.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

How Many Push-Ups You Can Do Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Disease

18 FEB 2019

main article image

Scientists have identified what they think could be a simple, practical test to predict people's heart health, and it's about as quick as saying, "Drop and give me 40".

In a new study led by Harvard University, researchers found that men's ability to do more than 40 push-ups was linked with significantly reduced risk of serious heart problems over the next 10 years – in some cases slashing risk by as much as 96 percent.

"Our findings provide evidence that push-up capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting," says occupational medicine resident Justin Yang from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests."

Of course, the ability to do 40 push-ups in the first place is generally indicative of a high level of physical fitness – especially among middle-aged men, which is what the group the researchers were studying.

So it's not exactly news that being physically fit reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events – such as heart attacks and developing coronary artery disease.

But what's new and useful here is the ability to predict these kinds of health problems with such a simple, universal test – and with what looks to be greater accuracy than expensive equipment like treadmills.

Not that the results we have now necessarily apply to everyone. In the study, Yang and his team studied a relatively niche cohort: 1,104 active male firefighters, with an average age of 39.6 at the beginning of the study. These participants were observed over the space of a decade.

During the 10-year study, 37 of these men experienced CVD-related outcomes, such as heart failure, sudden cardiac death, or receiving a diagnosis of coronary artery disease.

What's interesting, though, is that of all those 37 men, all but one were participants who weren't able to complete over 40 push-ups in their baseline physical exam at the outset of the study.

Broadly speaking, the team observed lower CVD risks in all groups with higher push-up capacity, but if you could do above 40 push-ups (out of a maximum 80 in the baseline test), the results put you in a much healthier place compared to those whose capacity is low.

"Participants able to complete more than 40 push-ups had a 96 percent reduction in incident CVD events compared with those completing fewer than 10 push-ups," the authors write in their paper.

It's worth noting that male firefighters aren't representative of other segments of society as a whole, so the results seen here wouldn't necessarily be reproduced in other people, which the researchers acknowledge.

But it's still a finding that bears further consideration in follow-up studies, especially since gauging push-up capacity is such a relatively easy clinical test for health professionals to conduct with patients who are physically able to undergo it.

"The push-up examination requires no special equipment, is low cost or no cost, can easily be performed in almost any setting within 2 minutes, and provides an objective estimate of functional status," the authors explain.

"It is a quantitative measurement that is easily understood by both the clinician and the patient."

If clinicians adopt the findings, it could be a simple adjustment to physical examinations of patients that are already testing fitness levels.

The adjustment may be simple – and the science may be obvious – but that doesn't mean the takeaways wouldn't potentially be life-saving.

"Push-up capacity is positively correlated with aerobic capacity and physical fitness," senior author of the study and CVD specialist, Stefanos Kales, told Inverse.

"These types of objective functional markers are generally good predictors of mortality."

The findings are reported in JAMA Network Open.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Looking for a Keiser Sled?

There will be an opportunity to pick up a Keiser Force Machine at the end of our week in Orlando, inside the Orange County Convention Center.

Price: $2400.


Give Daniel a call: 301.421.4433 x 110

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ted Jarboe: Drillmaster Extraordinarily

Ted Jarboe was the consummate fire officer. He had 40 years on the job here in Montgomery County (MD), before retiring to Orlando.

I attended his retirement party and promised that I’d stay in touch. Ted worked on a couple of safety initiatives with me for a national electrical safety association.

I sent him an email last week, inviting him to come to our Collegiate Cup Challenge at the Orange County Convention Center, coincidental with the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Collge of Sports Medicine.

Then, my son Brent, working on B shift today sent me a text that Teddy had passed.

I immediately called his brother Jimmy and expressed my condolences and great appreciation as Ted was the lead instructor for my firefighter basic and advanced classes.

Back in the last century, the University of Maryland’s College of Engineering set all doctrine for certification in the state. I checked my wallet cards, and as I remembered, there was Ted’s signature.

A real giant in the field. Ted had his undergraduate degree from Maryland and was a standout engineer.

Pictures below are some artifacts from our collective past

Ted Jarboe must have signed thousands of these cards over the years

The University of Maryland would morph into MFRI- a worldwide presence in firefighter training

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Why the Patriots Are Champions

The Patriotsʼ secret is focusing on the details. Every. Last. Detail.

Sally Jenkins ATLANTA —

Patriots quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, left, and Tom Brady stand with Coach Bill Belichick during a practice in January. (Steven Senne/AP) 

The New England Patriots franchise is a snarling, unkillable monster where 

explanations go to die. Try to define how this singular club has made nine 

Super Bowls in 18 seasons, and you wind up trapped in a lot of bland, 

meaningless generalities about “efficiency” and “execution” that donʼt 

come close to capturing its precision-blade offensive excellence or its 

hand-in-the-dirt defensive violence or its pure greed for winning. Every NFL 

team preaches execution. So how come nobody can imitate the Patriotsʼ 

standard of it? 

The most knowledgeable NFL observers struggle to analyze the sheer 

sustenance of their record, by what method they have maintained such a 

perfection-crazed level over two decades when cycles of roster turnover, 

burnout and strategic evolution deteriorate every other team. 

“We all want to know it because everybody would like to replicate it if they 

knew,” says Trent Dilfer, the ex-quarterback turned NFL Network analyst 

who won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in the 2000 season. 

“Iʼve studied it and tried to understand it, but Iʼd be lying to say I totally did.”

Every NFL club is a complex organism with assets in different departments, 

but the Patriots more than any team in history are able to resolve all facets 

into performance on the field in crucial moments. Take those plays in 

overtime of their AFC championship game victory over the Kansas City 

Chiefs to reach the Super Bowl: Everyone in the stadium — and the world — 

knew quarterback Tom Brady would look at Julian Edelman and Rob 

Gronkowski on third and 10; they got open anyway.

“Theyʼre always on point,” says Los Angeles Rams defensive back Aqib 

Talib, who played for the Patriots in 2012 and 2013 and won a Super Bowl 

with Denver in the 2015 season. “They throw the ball so fast, but theyʼre 

always on point. Thatʼs so tough to do.”

The Patriotsʼ methods to a large extent remain in a lockbox, thanks to 

Coach Bill Belichickʼs secretive nature: He refused to practice outdoors this 

week because the field was surrounded by “20-story skyscrapers” that he 

said offered too good a view. But some things can be gathered from former 

Patriots or favored broadcasters who have been inside the operation. What 

emerges is a portrait of a team that simply practices at a more extreme 

cadence than others and is zealous at even the most minor-seeming tasks. 

The Patriots personify an old quote from former Miami Dolphins coach Don 

Shula, who once was asked, “Why donʼt you overlook a little mistake?” 

Shula answered, “Whatʼs a little mistake?” 

The Ramsʼ 33-year-old coach, Sean McVay, got a brief look at the Patriots 

in 2014 during a joint training camp workout when he was still an assistant 

with the Washington Redskins. McVay noticed, first of all, that there was not 

a single rote or apathetic moment: If a player wasnʼt on the field, he was 

running in an individual drill with a position coach.

“If you knew nothing about football — not a thing — and you just watched 

them, youʼd say, ‘Thereʼs something different about that team,ʼ ” McVay told 

NBCʼs Peter King last week. 

McVay left the practice with one thought: “Thatʼs what it looks like when itʼs 

done right.”

The great Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne spent 11 days with 

the Patriots in 2015 as a free agent at the end of his career before deciding 

to retire. Wayne was a champion worker in his own right, part of a Super 

Bowl team under Coach Tony Dungy in the 2006 season. But in his few days 

with the Patriots he was struck by the absoluteness of their concentration 

and absorption with details that might become critical inflection points in 

big games. In one 45-minute meeting on “situational football,” they 

reviewed not only the two-minute offense but exactly how players should 

give the ball to the referee between plays. 

“Lot of guys, you see them toss the ball to the ref,” Wayne says. Not the 

Patriots. “You donʼt know if the ref can catch or not, so if they drop that ball 

and itʼs bouncing around, thatʼs time running off the clock.” The Patriots 

were drilled to sprint to the ref and hand it to him, to get a quicker spot and 

save a second. They would “go over and over and over it,” Wayne said, and 

didnʼt seem to resent the monotony.

The conservation of time begins the moment they walk in the building.

“Look, if you show up one minute late, they just tell you to go home for the 

day,” says former New York Giants Super Bowl quarterback and CBS analyst 

Phil Simms, a Belichick confidante. The Patriots “set more alarms” than 

other teams, Talib says, all in the name of “habits.” The time sacrifice 

requires such cooperation from spouses that safety Devin McCourty said 

his wife tells him: “Go watch film. I want to go to the Super Bowl. Iʼve got the 

kids.” Brady remarked this week that he has spent more time with Belichick 

in his life “than with my parents.”

Thatʼs confirmed by Willie McGinest, defensive cornerstone of the Patriotsʼ 

2001, 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl-winning teams. He used to try to beat 

Belichick to the office. “I would get there at 5 in the morning,” McGinest 

says. “Once he heard I was coming in, he would be there at 4i30.” The 

sense of urgency permeates the building, he says, down to the laundry 

staff. “If the uniform guy donʼt have the uniforms straight and ready to go, 

somebodyʼs on his ass,” McGinest says.

The same is true on the practice field, 

where staccato-shouting coaches 

continually clean up slippage in the 

technique of the most blooded 


“You go to their practices, theyʼre 

always setting something straight,” 

CBS analyst Boomer Esiason says. 

“Bill will walk over and say, ‘How many 

times do we got to tell you, stay on the 

outside, stay on the outside.ʼ ”

When there is a mental mistake, there 

is no happy talk about it from 

Belichick says, ‘I donʼt believe in lying to a 

player.ʼ Itʼs not a franchise for high- 

priced egos that need flattery.

“If they do, probably the New England Patriots is not the place for them,” 

Belichick says before pausing. “Look, I think itʼs just about being honest. I 

donʼt think you tell somebody they did a good job when they didnʼt do a 

good job. I think if they do a good job, you tell them they did a good job. If 

they didnʼt do a good job, I think you tell them, ‘Hereʼs what you need to do 

better.ʼ I donʼt believe in lying to a player.”

By all accounts, the Patriotsʼ ticktock urgency is coupled with an intense 

physicality in practice few other teams are willing to risk. Simms says of 

Belichick, “If he could, their ass would be in pads every week.” McGinest 

recalls that frequently defensive starters would act as the scout team 

against Bradyʼs offense, mimicking the opponent “because we wanted them 

to see what it was really going to look like in a game. We would give them 

their first look — and we would give them a full-speed look.”

Simms witnessed a practice two years ago, as the Patriots were readying to 

play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2016 AFC championship game. Simms 

was “shocked at the pace,” given that it was the postseason, and at the 

fierceness with which they went at each other. On one play, Brady threw a 

pass out to Edelman, his close friend and favorite target. It was a bad throw 

that tailed into the dirt. Edelmen dived down to get it, caught his cleats in 

the grass and face-planted in the turf. He got up with a clod of dirt in his 

face mask and began cursing Brady for lousy execution.

“What did you say?!” Brady snapped at him, and the two men went helmet 

to helmet and began screaming at each other.

“Thatʼs just how they are,” Simms says. “Then I heard Bill ran ʼem a lot after 


They beat the Steelers, 36-17. 

Belichick sets the basic template and schedule, but somewhere along the 

line the Patriots players adopt it as theirs, and pride in execution becomes a 

partnership that has won at least 10 games every season since 2003.

“Itʼs certainly not the easiest place to play,” special teams captain Matthew 

Slater says, “but it works for us because of the buy-in. Guys are willing to 

check their egos at the door and say, ‘Hey, Iʼm in this for the greater good,ʼ 

and the guys who arenʼt willing to do that usually donʼt last long here. . . . So 

I think itʼs a perfect match. Bill has the formula, and he gets the right guys 

to come in and do it the way he wants it done.” 

The Patriots long have been accused of practicing dark arts, but there is no 

swallowable pill or spying or ball deflation ploy that is a shortcut to their 

substance. Their success is the result of manifold parts: scouting, an 

economistʼs grasp of salary management, the discipline not to be seduced 

by talent and to bring in only the most intelligent players preloaded with 

work ethic, Belichickʼs deep strategic background, and a quarterback for the ages who has played into his 40s. These are all crucial. But theyʼre 

ultimately just piecemeal factors that lead up to the collective on-field 

performance by players who take an incalculable pride in craft and learn to 

enjoy winning more than any leisure.

“When I go and spend time with them at practice, I always walk away going, 

‘Well, I know why they win,ʼ ” Simms says. “When I go to another team, I go, 

‘Uh, thatʼs why they are where they are, looking for another coach every 

third year and never winning a lot of games.ʼ ”

Today's Feel Good Story from the Washington Post

After a woman gave birth at home, firefighters shoveled her driveway to get the ambulance through
By Lindsey Bever, January 29

Scotty and Cassy Abram with their newborn son, Scotty Jr. (Larissa Ruffin)

There was no time to make it back to the hospital. Cassy Abram, who was 37 weeks pregnant, and her husband, Scotty, had spent the night in a hospital in Iowa, but by Monday morning, the physicians had concluded it was simply not time for her to deliver the baby, she said.

The couple, from Cedar Rapids, fought freezing temperatures and snow-covered roads to get back home. Minutes later, the baby was on the way.

Cassy Abram told her husband to call for an ambulance, but before he could make the call, she had delivered their son on the living room floor. “It was crazy,” Cassy Abram, 28, told The Washington Post. “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

It had been a joyous — albeit stressful — morning, but the Abrams said that when Cedar Rapids firefighters arrived, they made it even more special. While several of them tended to the mother and baby inside, two others responded to the scene in their personal vehicles and shoveled snow from the couple’s driveway so Cassy Abram and her baby could be taken to the hospital.

Cassy Abram’s aunt, Larissa Ruffin, was on the phone for the birth. It was about 6:30 a.m. when Cassy Abram started to deliver and told her husband to get help. He called Ruffin.

“He said, ‘Help me!’ ” Ruffin recalled, saying that she could hear Cassy Abram screaming and crying in the background. “I told him, ‘Call 911!’ ”

Suddenly, Ruffin said, she heard him say, “Welcome to the world, baby boy,” and she heard the newborn cry. “I was so confused,” she said.

Just like that, Ruffin said, Scotty Abram Jr. had been born. Ruffin said her niece cleaned out the baby’s nose and mouth, and Scotty Abram called 911. When first responders got there, Scotty Abram cut the umbilical cord, and the firefighters evaluated the mother and child.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said that upon arrival, firefighters put out a call for another crew to clear snow for the ambulance, and two other firefighters showed up in their own cars. Buelow said the firefighters, Bryan Johnson and Jason Aarhus, shoveled the entire driveway.

Buelow said the “heartfelt” gesture was “an example of the dedication and compassion of the firefighters we have working for the city of Cedar Rapids. They truly care about the community."Ruffin said the mother and her newborn were taken to the hospital by ambulance and are doing well. The Abrams are planning to bring Scotty Jr. home on Wednesday, Ruffin said.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Firefighter Combat Challenge® Venue Selection

The title to this post would suggest that we have options for where we go. In those rare situations when confronted with two events on the same weekend, we do have to make a choice. But, the reality is more like "Can you come to our town/city on this date?"

Putting on the Challenge is an expensive proposition. Our sponsors and competitor/athletes provide 75% of the costs. So, we have to look to propsective hosts to make up the difference. The logistics are complicated by DOT regulations that stipulate how many hours of driving is allowed of Commercially Licensed Drivers (CDL).

Sometimes we have invitations that are simply impossible, like alternating coasts in a one-week span.  We give our best effort to consider every request. Ideally, events would be separated by no more than 1,000 miles.

Venue booking goes on constantly, year round. A propsective venue makes their interest known by contacting Rob Alesbury, our VP for marketing. A Host Packet is dispatched and a conversation ensues. Critical to considreration is the support of the local fire department and the CVB (Convention and Visitor's Bureau).

So, in a nutshell, we go where there is a demand. In many cases, it is a local FCC team that initiaties the initial conversation; first with the local CVB, and other sponsors, then reaching out to us for the requirements.

As soon as we have a viable lead, we post the event as "Red" on the schedule.  (We use a traffic light symbology for the progress stages. Once we have an agreement in the form of an executed contract with a deposit towards the cost, we turn the event "Yellow." "Green" happens when the progress payment is received.

There's not a lot of mystery here. If you'd like to see an event closer to home, start the process of beating the bushes and we'll come running.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fairness Defined

I can remember vividly a lecture given by the president of my college in my senior year. The subject was “Fairness.”  Life is not fair and if you don’t wrap your head around that thought, you’re going to be frustrated, depressed, angry and disappointed.

Fairness is not a statistical term. It has no objectivity as it exists in the space between your ears. It’s largely based upon perception. It is a condition that is free from bias, favoritism or discrimination.

This weekend, the Saints had their Super Bowl hopes dashed with a blown call. It’s hard to get over something so egregious; millions of dollars at stake. Fans at the stadium took up the chant: “Tomorrow we March.”

"Level playing field" personifies the ethos of sport. In combative sports, weight classes are created to prevent larger guys pommeling little guys. "Punching above your weight" infers that a smaller guy can compete against the next higher class. And so on, and so forth.

Here's what we're presently working on by way of changes for the upcoming season.

We've subscribed to the notion that foreign nationals had to wear gear compliant with their country's standards. Problem is, a lot of these guys don't go inside. So, in all fairness, here's what's coming:

Gear: foreign nationals much have compliant gloves and boots. If your department doesn't have a vapor barrier requirement, we'll loan you a pair.

Similarly, turnouts must have liners.

An inspection of all of the penalties from the season, including the finals reveals that "Short Keiser" far and away leads the list of violations. So, we're going to remove the sensors and the audible signals since it appears that scores of competitors pay no attention to them. I could get into the headspace on this, but I think that I know what's going on here. Rather than sticking around to see that the task is done, just wack it hard and hope it slides to the end. Risky. But, hey, someone thinks that it's worth the shot. In fact, a whole lot of guys.

Those white triangles are foolproof. Let 'er rip.

We strive mightily to give every Challenge athlete a "level playing field." But, there are certain immutable forces and facts that can not be adjusted. Like water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon. For everyone.

Presently, I'm working on a tutorial that involves the Trusty-Cook shot mallet and Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Gravity.

Stay tuned.