Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scott McIntyre: a case study in transformation

Why I Got Started

It was in high school that I can remember I began starting to put on weight and then it continued into college. I can remember always being the fat kid in my college classes and always wanting to be the one who was in the best shape or look like the bodybuilders in all those magazines I read.
I went to the gym and thought I was eating healthy when in reality I did not have the first clue what I was doing. I was overtraining and eating way too many calories. I was even turned down for my dream job as a firefighter because I was told I was not healthy or fit enough. I eventually did get a job as a firefighter, then my first year on the job I hurt my back and found myself getting winded fairly quickly.

Age: 27 
 270 lbs 
Body Fat:

Age: 30 
 190 lbs 
Body Fat:

Waist: 31"    

I was not in the shape I wanted or needed to be in to be a firefighter. I knew I needed a change in lifestyle and eating habits. At the same time I had started to compete in Firefighter Combat Challenges. This is billed as the "Toughest 2 Minutes in Sports" and believe me it truly is. Being overweight and out of shape was keeping me from getting under the 2 minute mark to finish.

How I Did It
Around the same time I hurt my back and after my first season of competing in the firefighter challenges I started going to my local gym and lifting weights. I did this for a year but was not getting the results I wanted. I was getting frustrated, but as luck would have it I had recently got in contact with an old fitness coach.
After talking with him, we came up with a game plan for me and how I would achieve the weight loss and physical fitness I desired. After 12 weeks I had lost 60 pounds and was weighing in at 205 with 9% body fat. That season in the Combat Challenge I competed in various events and then later at Nationals, as well as being able to run a 1:40 time, 20 seconds under the mark. I was floored. I continued working with my trainer into the off-season and with a goal of competing in my first bodybuilding competition which is something I had always desired. 
I had gained a fair amount of muscle at that point. 15 weeks out from my first show is when I started my pre-contest diet and training routine. I have to say my wife was awesome for me at this point, always supporting me throughout this experience. 15 weeks went fairly quickly and for my first show I was able to come in at 190 pounds and 4%. I won first place in my first bodybuilding show!


5 days per week for 30 minutes in the morning, 4 times per week for 20 minutes after working out. It doesn't matter what time of cardio you do, just do it at a steady pace and a moderate speed.

Suggestions for Others

My suggestion to others is to set short-term goals. Once you reach your first goal, start on the next goal and keep going until you achieve your ultimate goal. The road to success is not easy. People will try and get you to cheat on your diet or stray from your program or any number of other things. But stick with it and if you hit plateau don't give up and break through it.

Also I would say find someone who can be honest with you, either a coach, a workout partner, or someone at home who can help you keep on track. An extra set of eyes is always a good thing because it can become hard for you to see all that you have done when you think there is still so much to do. 
Finally, once you start, stick to it. Once you have invested some time into getting where you want to go, don't stop. You have already put in so much time and effort, keep going until you achieve your goal and if you do the sky is the limit for you!

Thank You:
I want to say thank you to my wife Jenny. Without her by my side this whole time I never would have been able to reach my goal. She was my backbone and helped me stay strong at the times when I was weak and felt like quitting. She always believed in me.

I also want to say thank you to my coach Mike. Mike gave me the tools to help me help myself and get me to the condition I always dreamed of but never believed was possible. He helped make me a champion and I never could have done it without him.

To the guys at the fire hall, thanks for not making it too rough for me over the 15 weeks. Some of that food smelled so good. And I think we should eat it now! scott

Monday, December 19, 2016

Colonel Roy Davis, USAF (Ret), Tacoma FD (ret)

Colonel Roy Davis, USAF, (ret), Tacoma Fire Department (retired II)
Let’s hear it for some of the “old” guys as we head towards the dawn of a new year. Roy Davis served his country as a pilot for the USAF, after which, seeking yet more adventure, joined the Tacoma (WA) Fire Department at the age of 52 in 1994. As the oldest “boot,” Roy felt a need to demonstrate that he could pull his own weight.

The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®, known as “The Toughest Two Minutes in Sports” would validate Roy’s competence as a structural firefighter in a very demanding profession. Roy would astound his peers with his performance on the course. His first event was in 1995 in Tampa. A compendium of his accomplishments is in the table below.

Some of his accomplishments included setting the World Record in Deerfield Beach in 1997 for the Over 50 class. This record would stand for nearly 7 years. This concludes a twenty consecutive year run of holding a world record in either the 50+ or 60+ age groups.

His over 60 Record would stand until this year.

For an overview of Roy’s amazing sports career, here are some links that you’ll find inspirational

Roy’s Swimming Career

Go Hard or Go Home

Anyone looking for a suggested workout/training regimen would benefit greatly by looking at Roy’s website.

Roy was an active competitor on the Firefighter Combat Challenge course for 8 years. While we don’t know exactly how many runs he made in the US, but 40 is probably a reasonable estimate.

LOCATION                                                                           PLACE    TIME  DIVISION     RECORD

1995 WORLD CHALLENGE IV  (TAMPA FL)                   4TH            3:03         50+              2:55
1996 WORLD CHALLENGE V  (LAS VEGAS NV)          2ND            2:34         50+              2:30
1997 WORLD CHALLENGE VI  (LAS VEGAS NV)         1ST             2:03*       50+              2:03
1998 WORLD CHALLENGE VII  (KISSIMMEE FL)         1ST             2:02*       50+              2:02
1999 WORLD CHALLENGE VIII  (LAS VEGAS NV)      1ST             1:55*       50+              1:55
2000 WORLD CHALLENGE IX  (LAS VEGAS NV)         1ST             1:53*       50+              1:53
2001 WORLD CHALLENGE X                                                    INJURED
2002 WORLD CHALLENGE XI (DEERFIELD BEACH)  1ST               1:52*      50+/60+      1:52

*= World Record

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Naval Institute Proceedings Fall Enlisted Essay Contest

First Prize Winner – Fall Enlisted Prize Essay Contest Sponsored with Textron Systems//
© December 2016

Naval Institute Proceedings

Never Above, Always Beside
by Sergeant Daniel Glisson, U.S. Marine Corps

I don’t claim to be a great leader. I won’t even say I’m a good one. But I have met a few.

I was lucky enough in my younger years to witness some of the greatest leaders who have ever walked this earth. These leaders embodied our core values of courage, honor, and commitment. Even after going through boot camp—being able to memorize and scream the definitions—I did not truly comprehend these words. I only learned their core concepts when I was taught them in the most intimate possible way.

I only knew you in passing, and never as well as I should have. I do regret that now. Even in brief moments, you taught me many things.

A day in the barracks. As you argued with another Marine, it turned into a fight. You yelled and struck, and in a flash it was over. Seconds later, there was a shaking of hands and a hug. The love between brothers that no one else will ever understand.

That was when you taught me honor.

Months later, in Marjah, Afghanistan. The first time I ever stepped outside into the unknown abyss. Into only the known of danger and torture, where the only thing we had was each other completely surrounded by pain. As you stepped outside, you turned to us with a smile and said, “Here we go.”

That was when you taught me courage.

Soon after. When the scorching sun cooked what lay on the ground, and the beings that walked about. As I was many meters away. A Marine laid on a rooftop made from mud, bleeding. Without hesitation you went to him. Without a beating heart you saved your brother.

That was the day you taught me commitment.

That was the day when I could only aspire to reach the values you taught us.

Lance Corporal Joshua Twigg, U.S. Marine Corps, was killed in action on 2 September 2010, the day that he ran onto a rooftop to save another Marine. Walter Winchell once wrote that in a marriage one must be “never above you, never below you, always beside you.” Leadership in combat is far more personal and intimate than marriage. When a Marine says “never above” it refers to the love all infantrymen have for each other regardless of rank or billet, officer or enlisted. Even though it is clear who is in charge, real Marines would give themselves in entirety for another. If you hold yourself above someone, or think of yourself as more valuable, you would not sacrifice yourself for them. A round from a machine gun went through Lance Corporal Twigg’s heart as he ascended the stairwell. After being shot he still made it to the lieutenant and jumped off the rooftop carrying him.

Lance Corporal Twigg epitomized “never above,” just as Corporal John C. Bishop did. Corporal Bishop told me several times, “I have never met a man worth his own weight who would hold himself above another.” Bishop was an experienced corporal, with a bit more than four years in the Marine Corps at the time. His first deployment, one of several, was the push into Fallujah, Iraq, our most kinetic engagement of the century. But he never held it over you, and never claimed to be a better man or Marine because of it. The man was the embodiment of silent professionalism, and unless you asked him about his experience you’d never know. Corporal Bishop was killed in action 8 September 2010. I will always remember how he taught me you must be a good man before you can be a good Marine. I later passed that on to the recruits of Parris Island whom I helped to develop and train.

Marines Don’t Fight for Glory

Napoleon so ignorantly declared that “a soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” He was wrong. A leader will inspire, not manipulate. The truth is, warriors won’t fight for any amount of colored cloth or shiny metal, but they will gladly and without hesitation die for each other. The love among them drives them to accomplish amazing feats that could be described only as miracles, except unlike miracles, they occur over and over. Shiny medals and badges will never make a person great, or make them a leader.

A leader never seeks glory. Glory must be distinguished from pride, because if you do your job well, you should be proud. Glory invites attention-seeking behavior that often is seen as: “Look at me; I am so great.”

Leaders understand that Marines don’t fight for glory: they fight for other Marines. The greatest warriors I have ever met never boasted or bragged. They rarely talked about themselves. A sergeant once told me that “the empty ammo can rattles the loudest.” The best combat-experienced leaders I have met were followed not because of their experience, but because of their values. I generally did not even know about their combat experience until further on in our professional relationship. I have served with a few horrible leaders with vast combat experience. These failed leaders cited all the things they had done, but it never made them better people or better leaders.

Combat experience, in itself, has little to do with great leadership. A particular staff noncommissioned officer I knew—who had never deployed outside the United States—proved to be the very embodiment of leadership. The Marines in his section at the time were very experienced noncommissioned officers, most of whom had several tremendously kinetic combat deployments. Those Marines would have followed him in a bayonet rush into hell, not because he was a staff sergeant, but because he was a leader.
Undeniable Truths

During World War I, Major John Whittlesey’s battalion of 554 men followed him into the Argonne Forest after being cut off from the rest of the 77th Infantry Division. With the odds stacked against them, they fought valiantly and successfully repelled the Germans. Only 194 of those men were able to walk out of the forest. Major Whittlesey’s leadership resulted in victory in a battle no one thought could be won. For this he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Unable to handle the loss of his men, Major Whittlesey later killed himself on 26 November 1921 on a ship en route to Havana. He experienced in full measure the unbearable yet undeniable truth about leadership, which is that your Marines and Sailors will die, and it is your own orders that sent them to their deaths. However strong or experienced people may be, we must never allow them to forget they are human, especially the leaders themselves.

Leadership has many aspects. It can’t be reduced to a few words, or even captured in one essay. I don’t think our language has the capacity to define leadership. Even through all my Marine training, the core concept behind leadership never dawned on me. When I finally realized what true leadership is, it came at a great cost. These are things that Marines such as John Bishop and Joshua Twigg taught me.

Give All of Yourself

Expect your Marines to do the same. Love your Marines genuinely, correct their deficiencies, and hold them accountable for their mistakes. Foster their development both as men and Marines, both professionally and morally. Never hold yourself above anyone or believe your value is greater. Speak with humility, and never justify or qualify yourself by citing previous endeavors. Walk courageously into the arms of death, and embrace the unknown with a smile and no hesitation. Bleed beside your Marines; your blood is no different. Accept that Marines die, and when they do, teach your Marines how to accept it by standing tall and remaining strong, while embracing and acknowledging your own humanity. You must be ethical, educated, and moral before you can be a leader. Genuinely care about the well-being of your Marines, even more so than your own.

Remember you are never above, but you are always beside, your Marines.

[Sergeant Glisson joined the Marine Corps in 2009. He deployed with 2nd Battalion 9th Marines to Marjah and Sangin, Afghanistan, in 2010 and 2011. He currently serves with 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines deployed to Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan. ]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

World Challenge XXVI (2017) Venue

There is absolutely no benefit in keeping it a secret. There is no special "behind the scene" story here folks.

When we met with the prospective host, they asked for a 40 day period to finalize the contract. Now, I totally appreciate the need to request leave during the month of December. We are partial to the last full week in October. But, that decision is the host's to make.

The 40 days have now expired and we are expecting some direction momentarily.

I do believe that early in 2017 we'll be able to announce venues and dates for 2018 and 2019. That should help everyone.

In the meantime, the moment we know something, you'll be the next to know. We'll do a Newsletter and post it on our website and Facebook page.

Paul O. Davis, Ph.D.
Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®
"The Toughtest Two Minutes in Sports" tm

In Recognition- an Honor Richly Deserved: Ted Overcash

From time to time, we like to remind all of our athletes that it’s not just about records and medals, but the ethos of the struggle. And, one guy who’s got the scars to prove it is Ted Overcash of Minooka, IL.

Ted is a survivor. Sometimes, people have bad luck. Ted has seen his share, but like the Eveready Bunny, this guy just keeps coming back. We name the trophy for the most points for the GNC after Ted for good reason. Over his career spanning almost the entire existence of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, Ted was a constant presence despite a plethora of what should have been disabling medical conditions. To his credit, Ted has run as an individual in 63 events and another 15 Relay/Tandem races.

Ted’s contributions to inspiration were recently recognized with the opening of the Minooka Fire Department‘s new Fitness Center.

Kudos to Dennis Keiser for the contribution of a Total Body Trainer. And, nothing could be more fitting than the recognition of the life accomplishments of now 71-year old Ted who graced us with his presence at WCXXV this year, running on a Relay Team.

Ted on the Keiser Total Body Trainer, donated by Dennis Keiser

Friday, December 2, 2016

From Seth Godin

Seth Godin is an insightful marketing genius who puts out daily nuggets of wisdom. You can subscribe to his newsletter. This one from yesterday needed to be distributed widely:

Which kind of truth?

Organic chemistry doesn't care if you believe in it. Neither does the War of 1812.

Truth is real, it's measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder.

There are facts that don't change if the observer doesn't believe: The age of the Eiffel Tower. The temperature in Death Valley. The number of people in the elevator.

On the other hand, there are outcomes that vary quite a bit if we believe: The results of the next sales call. Our response to medical treatment. The enjoyment of music...

If you believe that this wine tastes better than that one, it probably will. If you believe you're going to have a great day at work, it will surely help. Placebos work.

We make two mistakes, all the time. First, we believe that some things are facts (as in true), when in fact, belief has a huge effect on what's going to happen. In the contest between nature and nurture, nurture has far more power than we give it credit for. In countless ways, our friends and parents matter more than our genes do.

At the same time, sometimes we get carried away. We work to amplify our beliefs by willfully confusing ourselves about whether the truth is flexible. It makes belief a lot more compelling (but a lot less useful) if we start to confuse it with truth.

But belief is too important and too powerful to be a suspect compatriot of the scientific/historical sort of truth.

We can believe because it gives us joy and strength and the ability to do amazing things. That's enough.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Life As It Should Be

Oakville’s rise to the top comes with all the critical ingredients of success. A spark plug in the form of Shaun Henderson, support from a lot of quarters, including the Fire Chief, and his staff, the training chief, the IAFF local and City Hall. Never was this better demonstrated than yesterday during my visit to Oakville.

Members of the 2016 World Champions Oakville FD Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge at City Hall, L to R: Andy Waldron, Alex Harriman, Shaun Henderson, Mayor Rob Burton, Dr. Paul Davis, Darren Van zandbergen, Ian Vanreenen, Dave Walker, Matt Longwell on November 14, 2016.

Here’s another critical component of the making of a championship team: a tower. Through private-public partnerships, Oakville has their very own tower. After the city council meeting, I attended a retirement party for 9 of the guys who went out this year. A great way to do it. What was fascinating was the fact that scores of members of the department had competed in the Challenge over the years and everyone was supportive of the team, and proud to have them in their company. 

Oakville’s Firefighter Combat Challenge Training Tower

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cotton Bowl, 2014 Redux

It's hard to believe that it will be 3 years ago that we made our appearance at the Cotton Bowl. From our archive, here's some unedited clips in no specific order, from that momentous event at the (Cowboy) AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, TX.

The day before the event, January 6 was mild, with little wind activity. No so on the 7th. The winds were gusty and we could not unfurl the banner line.

But, indoors, well, that was another thing. With 100,000 spectators, our crew of about 100 firefighters, assisted by another 200 majorettes unfurled what has to be one of the largest US flags.

First Segment

Second Segment

Third Segment

Fourth Segment

Fifth Segment

Fourth Segment

Sixth Segment

Seventh Segment

Eighth Segment

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge: Corporal Desmond T. Doss, US Army, CMH

I first met Desmond Doss in the summer of 1963 in Grand Ledge Michican while attending Cadet Summer Camp (photo below). I would meet him again four years later as a member of the cadre at the camp named after him. He was one of the most humble, unassuming individuals I've ever met. I'm also proud to say that I rendered first aid in the form of a splinter removal on one of his fingers. Seriously, Desmond is still known in the fire-rescue business for the creation of the Rescue Knot that he employed in the rescue of 75 soldiers described in the citation below.
Cpl Desmond T. Doss, center, with the cadre for his eponymous Camp Doss. Author, front row, seated on right.

Cpl Desmond T. Doss, with SP5 Curtis Reed, 2x recipient of the Bronze Star for valor in Viet Nam and unknown cadet, Summer 1967. Curt was my roomate for a year

Mel Gibson's new World War II biopic, "Hacksaw Ridge," tells the true story of Desmond Doss, who was the first conscientious objector to received the Medal of Honor. As an unarmed combat medic, Doss rescued at least 75 soldiers wounded on the battlefield in Okinawa.
Read Doss' Medal of Honor citation provided by the Desmond Doss Council, the group committed to preserving his story:
Private First Class Desmond T. Doss, United States Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. Near Urasoe-Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 29 April - 21 May 1945. He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and two days later he treated four men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small-arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small-arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Private First Class Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited five hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Private First Class Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of one arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Private First Class Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Science Says This Is the Best Motivation to Exercise

Mandy Oaklander

Time Magazine, Nov 1

If you play well with others, then it might be time to get tough. Friendly social support makes you work out less often, while cutthroat competition is the key to motivating yourself to get to the gym.

So finds a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, in which almost 800 graduate and professional students at the University of Pennsylvania were put through an 11-week exercise program with running, spinning, yoga, Pilates and weightlifting classes.

Each person was assigned to work out alone or in a team, and the dynamics were designed to be either socially supportive or competitive. In the competitive team group, people had a social network of five random health buddies whose exercise progress they could track, but they had no other interaction with them.

The supportive team group also had health buddies, and they were also able to chat, go to classes together and encourage one another to exercise. In the individual groups, people either worked out alone without a social network or with access to information about how they were doing compared to others.

Winners were determined by how many classes they or their team attended—and the results were unexpected. Whether a person was alone or in a team didn't affect how many workouts they did. But a competitive atmosphere encouraged people to work out more across the board.

People who were in the competitive groups went to 90% more classes than those who weren't. Even more surprisingly, when people got social support they exercised far less than they did when they were in competitive groups or alone. "That's pretty interesting, because it means that putting people into the social support condition was worse than giving them nothing at all," says the study's senior author Damon Centola, associate professor of communication and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. "I didn't expect that."

The researchers found these strong effects regardless of a person's sex or personality. Group dynamics have a lot of power over exercise behavior, and that's because a competitive atmosphere makes people focus on different things than a chummy one, Centola says. In the competitive group, all eyes were on the most active participants; they were the goalposts to beat."

As people were influenced by their neighbors to exercise more, it created a social ratchet, where everyone increased everyone else's activity levels," he says. But in the we're-all-in-this-together group, those that dragged their feet drew the most attention. "The people who were participating less would actually draw down energy levels and give others a reason or excuse to also participate less," Centola says.

People dropped out, and no one was very motivated. The results show that social networks really can help you exercise more, so long as they're used the right way. Centola suggests gathering people with similar backgrounds and interests, then creating an online group where people can track one another's exercise logs. That, he says, will give everyone a mutual incentive to keep going.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

25 Years of Firefighter Combat Challenge® History: Thank You - Everyone

by Paul Davis
Thursday, October 13, 2016 

House Burning, circa 1967
I joined the Montgomery County Maryland fire service in 1966 and loved absolutely everything about it. That was during the time when the fire service was just beginning to provide definitive care outside of the hospital. In support of that progress, I enthusiastically joined and graduated with the first class of licensed paramedics in 1972. Thereafter, I became a Pro-Board certified Firefighter III and my last assignment in Montgomery County was as Lieutenant-Instructor at the Academy where we trained and certified every firefighter as an EMT. When I was subsequently offered a full-time faculty position in a Doctoral program at the University of Maryland, I jumped at the opportunity. Although I didn’t know where all of this would take me, I was sure it was going to be a great ride. I certainly haven’t been disappointed. 

It’s hard to believe that the majority of our Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge competitors hadn’t been born when my colleagues and I conducted and published our ground-breaking fire service occupational physiology research in 1976. The Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health provided the facilities and support for the study and was one of the first recipients of federal funding that would ultimately become the FEMA Grant Program. In fact, our research study and the University of Maryland provided the incubator for the Firefighter Combat Challenge and the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute was the very first host of the Challenge in 1991. 

4th Alarm, Working Ladder Pipe, circa 1973
Although we don’t know the exact number, more than 30,000 North American firefighters have participated in the Challenge over the years. And, it is very encouraging that Combat Challenge participation continues to grow as thousands more in many countries across Europe and the rest of the world have joined their ranks. Importantly, we can also be very proud that the exposure of the Scott Firefighter Challenge to the “general market” public – our ultimate stakeholders – has been profound. In the U.S. this year alone we are on track to break the 50 million gross media impressions mark. 50 million! Remarkable.

With extraordinary vision, Scott Safety joined the Challenge in 1994, claiming “title” in 1997. There are no words that can adequately express our and the Challenge family’s genuine appreciation for their incredible support. As the undisputed leader within the fire/rescue industry – and a tireless supporter of corporate responsibility and public safety – there is not another company on the face of the earth that has so heavily invested in firefighter fitness and safety. Thank you Scott Safety! 

Vital to our success throughout the years – this “Challenge with a Purpose” has proven that the proverbial “rising tide” lifts all boats – a visible presence throughout the country that reminds our competitors, our customers and the public we protect that “We’re in the Life and Death Business” and cannot be satisfied with the status quo. 

To our hosts – It’s like “Homecoming Week” to be back in Montgomery, Alabama. No host has ever been better prepared or exuded “Southern Hospitality” like Montgomery. To Mayor Todd Strange, Fire Chief Milford Jordan, District Chief Russ Collier and every member of Montgomery Fire/Rescue, we say a heartfelt “Thank You!” 

Human Performance Laboratory • University of Maryland circa 1974
To our competitors – I wish to express my appreciation to everyone of you who has dedicated yourself to be as good as you can be! To my tireless crew, Kudos! Working in weather extremes and long hours, your dedication is tireless and appreciated by all.  

Finally – When reflecting upon the amazing culture that has become the Scott Firefighter Challenge over these past 25 years, it has been an incredible experience. Thank you all! I’m so glad that I didn’t miss the opportunity! And, here’s to the next 25!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why do U.S. kids rank 47th of 50 in fitness?

From “The Conversation”
, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, University of North Dakota © 2016

Elite U.S. athletes dominate the Olympics, and U.S. professional athletes earn tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars a year for their unmatched skills and abilities. On the surface, it might appear that we are a fit nation. So why are U.S. kids at the back of the world’s fitness pack, ranking behind children in many developing countries? Kinesiology professor Grant Tomkinson writes
that it’s the gap between rich and poor that results in a wide fitness gap among U.S. kids.

While the U.S. brings home more Olympic gold than any other country, many, if not most American school kids wouldn’t even bring home a tin, if there were such a low-ranking medal.

Recently, colleagues and I set out to see how the fitness of American kids stacked up relative to other countries. Our findings were surprising. Not only did the U.S. finish at the back of the pack, but U.S. kids ranked behind much smaller and some poorer countries, such as Iceland, Chile and Suriname.

Fitness level is an important indicator of sporting success, but it’s also important for your health. You can be fit in different ways – you can be strong like a weightlifter, run fast like a sprinter, be flexible like a gymnast or be skillful like a tennis player.

However, not all of these types of fitness relate well to your health. The most important type of fitness for good health is “aerobic” fitness, which is your ability to exercise vigorously for a long time, like running laps around an oval or biking around the neighborhood.

If you are generally unfit now, you are more likely to develop or die from conditions like heart disease, diabetes and some cancers later in life.

One study, using data from Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study which followed over 53,000 men and women, showed that low aerobic fitness was the strongest predictor of death. It was far greater than any other risk factor – with the exception of hypertension in men – and was greater than the combined deaths due to obesity, smoking and diabetes.

Being active in childhood can mean better fitness later. Active Healthy Kids Australia.
Recent evidence also shows that your fitness level as a child is strongly linked to your future health. Two studies, one that followed 1.3 million 18-year-old Swedish boys for 29 years, and another that followed 510 16-year-old Japanese girls for 64 years, found that children with low fitness levels were more likely to die prematurely from any cause later in life.

This highlights the importance of measuring aerobic fitness when trying to understand the health and well-being of children and youth.
Who are the fittest?

We published a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that compared the aerobic fitness levels of over 1.1 million kids aged 9 to 17 years from 50 countries who were measured using the 20 meter shuttle run, also called the “beep” test. We systematically analyzed data from 177 studies across the globe.

The beep test is the world’s most popular field test of aerobic fitness for children and youth. It is a progressive exercise test involving continuous running between two lines 20 meters (66 feet) apart in time to recorded beeps. The time between beeps gets progressively shorter and the test is over when you can no longer run the distance in the time with the beeps.

Our study showed that the fittest kids were from Africa and Central-Northern Europe, while least fit were from South America.

America finished at the back of the pack, ranked 47th out of 50, well behind the fittest from Tanzania, Iceland and Estonia and only just in front of the least fit from Mexico, Peru and Latvia. The typical 12-year-old American would run about 520 meters (1706 feet or 26 laps lasting 3.5 minutes) on the shuttle run before stopping, falling some 840 meters (2756 feet or 42 laps) behind the typical 12-year-old from Tanzania.

Our northern neighbor Canada, on the other hand, fared moderately well, placing just above the middle of the pack in 19th place.
U.S. kids at the back of the pack. Grant Tomkinson, Author provided

A separate analysis of these 1.1 million kids from 50 countries revealed that a higher proportion of boys (43-94 percent) had “healthy” aerobic fitness – the fitness level associated with better cardio-metabolic health – than girls (21-91 percent), with the proportion of kids with healthy fitness declining with age.
What’s causing the gap?

The reasons for the poor showing of the U.S. might surprise you.

We explored links between aerobic fitness and broad socioeconomic and demographic factors in each country including wealth inequality, standard of living, childhood obesity, physical activity levels and climate.

Wealth inequality – the gap between rich and poor as measured by the Gini Index – was the strongest correlate of a country’s fitness ranking. In other words, countries with a big gap between rich and poor tended to have low fitness levels.

This could be because countries with a big gap between rich and poor tend to have large subpopulations of poor individuals. Poverty is linked to bad social and health outcomes – one of which being lower aerobic fitness levels – including lower physical activity levels, higher levels of fat, lower life expectancy, increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases, impairment of children’s growth and social disintegration.

This finding suggests that initiatives to reduce the gap between rich and poor, such as progressive taxation regimes, salary regulation or income redistribution, might be suitable population approaches to increase fitness.

What can you do to improve your – and your kids’ – aerobic fitness?

Forming good fitness habits is important, but it’s also fun. Try joining a sporting club, go swimming at the beach regularly with friends or play basketball at the local playground after school. Keep each other inspired to keep exercising.

For real improvement in your aerobic fitness, the Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends you do at least 150 minutes weekly, and your kids at least 60 minutes daily, of moderate to vigorous exercise that uses the big muscles of the body. This includes exercises like running, biking or swimming, or playing sports like basketball, soccer or hockey.

Even better, an additional 20 minutes of the more vigorous “huff and puff” exercise will put you on the right path to developing the fitness habits that will keep you healthy now and into the future. One method, called interval training, involves exercising as hard as you can for a few minutes, then having a few minutes rest, and repeating a few more times. It’s not easy, and you’ll need to work up to it. Your kids will probably beat you, and, chances are they will enjoy it!

Also, why don’t you throw a little low-tech in with your high-tech and try “snacking” on exercise throughout the day until you build up the fitness and confidence to reach the recommended target? Remember to choose a range of “huff and puff” activities you like or think you might like to try, and get moving now toward a healthier you and healthier kids, too.

Friday, September 23, 2016

What is the DMCA and what does it have to do with the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge®

First, this definition and then the implications:

From Wikipedia:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.

Virtually everything that you hear on broadcast radio and TV is copyrighted, meaning that someone is paying for the privilege of playing the song. It’s estimated that there are over 2M copyrighted songs, the broadcast rights of which are owned by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. You’ll notice at the end of every TV show or cinema, the credits roll. The songs, performing artists and composers are listed- and paid for their contributions.

Any licensed music that we play at a public event comes with a cost, based on the size of the audience. For decades, we’ve been paying ASCAP a fee for every show. We don’t know for certain who owns the rights to every song since currently, our playlist comes from Pandora. This introduces another level of complexity since there’s another set of rules and another organization that’s involved in collecting royalties for this channel as well as SiriusXM.

And here’s where it gets very complicated. When we upload a live feed to Facebook or post video content to YouTube, there’s a legal exposure for us as well as these two web content providers. It is a criminal act to play licensed music and not pay for it.

Some years back Viacom sued YouTube over uploaded copyrighted content. The practical reality is that computer algorithms were created to match music with known copyrighted music resulting in the audio tracks being taken down. You may have noticed that this has been a recurring phenomena for the last several years. Almost as fast as we upload content, the audio is stripped off of the video. And, this does not just happen to us; many friends and family members video, upload and then have either the soundtrack or the video taken down.

Even though we have a license to play a song, it does not extend the right to broadcast in another media. When we are on ESPN, this presents problems since it’s virtually the same issue. Plus, there’s no phone number you can call and explain the situation even if you have a license to play a particular song.

When your audience is small, your risk of discovery is small. But when you start attracting larger and larger numbers, as our Feature Races have, the risk goes up rapidly. The fines can become huge. We’ve had several live feeds that exceeded 150,000 viewers and our Guns and Hoses video went over 680,000. These are numbers that sponsors like to see. And, without sponsors, there is no show.

Recently, just up the road from our office, a Howard County high school choir was performing Christmas music at the Columbia Mall. Coincidently, ASCAP’s headquarters are also in Columbia and one of their employees asked to see the sheet music. It was discovered that they had not purchased the rights for public performance of copyrighted material and were fined. Can you believe it?

I may not like or agree that the posted speed limit is 55MPH. And, I may choose to ignore the speed limit. But, in all likelihood, there are consequences.

So, what to do?

There are gigabytes of music that can be purchased where the rights to play convey with the purchase. We have started to assemble a playlist that will remove the exposure to being criminally fined and avoid sound tracks being taken down. This is not an overnight solution. Music is in the ear of the beholder and we’ve never been able to please everyone’s penchant for exactly their personal taste. But, we are diligently working on a solution to build out a playlist that will make us immune to prosecution and keep our audio tracks on our uploads.

How About This Idea?

There must be scores of firefighters who are members of garage bands. What if our entire soundtrack was composed by firefighters and played by firefighters. How cool would that be? And how about a contest for a Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge theme song?

We're going to reach out to the fire service community for expressions of interest in having a platform for their music being played in a public place. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Maw Family: First of a Kind

Last year at the World Challenge Championship in Montgomery, AL, the three members of the Maw family accomplished something that’s not likely to happen again anytime soon: they all qualified for membership in the Lion’s Den.

This noteworthy accomplishment is being celebrated both here in the US as well as their home country of New Zealand.

And, here’s another first, a customized tattoo gracing the arm of Wayne.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Talk About Climbing...

Watch this video, if you’re not acrophobic, that is...

This guy changes lightbulbs at 1600’
Click the link for a virtual climb experience

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

You probably have a vague sense that exercise is good for you—and you’ve probably heard that it’s “healthy for the heart.” But if you’re like most people, that’s not enough motivation to get you to break a sweat with any regularity. As I report in the TIME cover story, “The Exercise Cure,” only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week, more than half of all baby boomers report doing no exercise whatsoever, and 80.2 million Americans over age 6 are entirely inactive.Photograph by Gjon Mili—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME

That’s bad news, but emerging evidence shows that there are plenty of compelling reasons to start moving at any age and even if you’re ill or pregnant. Indeed, scientists are learning that exercise is, indeed, medicine. “There is no pill that comes close to what exercise can do,” says Claude Bouchard, director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. “And if there was one, it would be extremely expensive.”

You can read the whole story for more, but here are some of the amazing things that happen to a body in motion.

1. Exercise is great for your brain.

It’s linked to less depression, better memory and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise is, as of now, the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a major fear for many Americans.

Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, thanks to the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. It may also help people focus, according to recent research.

2. You might get happier.

Countless studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress. “For years we focused almost exclusively on the physical benefits of exercise and really have ignored the psychological and emotional benefits of being regularly active,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise.

3. It might make you age slower.

Exercise has been shown to lengthen lifespan by as much as five years. A small new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older and their cells divide over and over again, their telomeres—the protective caps on the end of chromosomes—get shorter. To see how exercise affects telomeres, researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time. Exercise, then, appears to slow aging at the cellular level.

4. It’ll make your skin look better.

Aerobic exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that improve skin health and even help wounds heal faster. “That’s why when people have injuries, they should get moving as quickly as possible—not only to make sure the muscle doesn’t atrophy, but to make sure there’s good blood flow to the skin,” says Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Train long enough, and you’ll add more blood vessels and tiny capillaries to the skin, too.

The skin also serves as a release point for heat. (See “Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Exercise?” for more on that.) When you exercise, your muscles generate a lot of heat, which you have to give up to the environment so your body temperature doesn’t get too high, Hackney says. The heat in the muscle transfers to the blood, which shuttles it to the skin; it can then escape into the atmosphere.

5. Amazing things can happen in just a few minutes.

Emerging research suggests that it doesn’t take much movement to get the benefits. “We’ve been interested in the question of, How low can you go?” says Martin Gibala, an exercise physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario. He wanted to test how effective a 10-minute workout could be, compared to the typical 50-minute bout. The micro-workout he devised consists of three exhausting 20-second intervals of all-out, hard-as-you-can exercise, followed by brief recoveries. In a three-month study, he pitted the short workout against the standard one to see which was better. To his amazement, the workouts resulted in identical improvements in heart function and blood-sugar control, even though one workout was five times longer than the other. “If you’re willing and able to push hard, you can get away with surprisingly little exercise,” Gibala says. (For more on the 1-minute workout read this.)

6. It can help you recover from a major illness.

Even very vigorous exercise—like the interval workouts Gibala is studying—can, in fact, be appropriate for people with different chronic conditions, from Type 2 diabetes to heart failure. That’s new thinking, because for decades, people with certain diseases were advised not to exercise. Now scientists know that far more people can and should exercise. A recent analysis of more than 300 clinical trials discovered that for people recovering from a stroke, exercise was even more effective at helping them rehabilitate.

Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, has prescribed exercise to his patients since the early 1990s in hopes of doling out less medication. “It really worked amazingly, particularly in my very sickest patients,” he says. “If I could get them to do it on a regular basis—even just walking, anything that got their heart rate up a bit—I would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, not to mention all of these other things like depression, anxiety, mood and energy levels.”

7. Your fat cells will shrink.
The body uses both carbohydrates and fats as energy sources. But after consistent aerobic exercise training, the body gets better at burning fat, which requires a lot of oxygen to convert it into energy. “One of the benefits of exercise training is that our cardiovascular system gets stronger and better at delivering oxygen, so we are able to metabolize more fat as an energy source,” Hackney says. As a result, your fat cells—which produce the substances responsible for chronic low-grade inflammation—shrink, and so does inflammation.