Monday, May 30, 2016

The Transformation of Keith DiPatri

Keith DiPatri here. We spoke in Virginia Beach about my weight transformation. Little more information. I've had 2 L5/S1 laminectomies, 1992/2002. In 2013 I had my C4 removed and a cadaver disc to replace it and a titanium plate installed to fuse it all together.

Fortunately my career was not over. I put on a lot of weight after the third surgery. March of 2015 I had enough (244 pounds right side of picture) and hired a trainer. I told him I didn't need cross fit, just to be fit.

My goal was under 200 pounds by Christmas. August I weighed in at 197. End of November I was at 175. My trainer asked what my next goal was, I told him competing in the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

So I began a strength and conditioning training. February I was 185 (Left side of picture). Between 1999 and 2003 I had competed in the Challenge, Little Rock, Conway, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Grapevine, Enid, Norman, Springfield. So I knew what I was getting into.

Thirteen years wiser at 47 my goal was to finish all I compete in this year and beat my personal best and I did by 6 seconds at Branson this year. I may never make the Lions Den but I will always get Randy across the finish line. Thanks to your staff and all they do. And thank you.

Keith DiPatri

Monday, May 23, 2016

In Celebration of our Silver Anniversary

Captain John Pennington, Winston-Salem FD; Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winner
Being around for 25 years is a significant accomplishment. We now have athletes who were not born in the year we first started (1991).

To recognize the significance of this season, we’ve struck a new medal and a Competitor embroidery patch.

It’s only appropriate that John Pennington is displaying the three medals (gold, silver and bronze) that he won this past weekend at the Virginia Beach event.

Consistent with May’s weather, we had a great sunny Friday, followed by a wet and rainy Saturday.

The Mount Trashmore (yep- this was a former landfill) venue was ideal. Representatives from the city included the Mayor, City Manager, Fire Chief and his staff were in attendance. TV coverage of the event by the NBC local affiliate may be viewed here:

Also, the story in the Virginia Pilot may be viewed here:

All Competitors from the Sioux Center event forward will get the embroidered patch in addition to the Scott-sponsored commerative coin. These graphics were designed by Michael DeGrandpre.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

From the Washington Post: Why are fire stations like frat houses?

This article appeared last week in the Metro section of The Washington Post. It’s a real black eye for the fire service, which unfortunately can’t seem to expunge the worst elements - the very few numbers of firefighters who’ve never learned how to behave.

Female firefighters still get harassed by misogynistic co-workers. Why is that okay?
Petula Dvorak
May 5
© 2016, The Washington Post

Burning buildings, lethal smoke, harrowing rescues — our country’s firefighters brave it all. But too many of them can’t seem to handle something far less difficult: working side-by-side with women.

We saw this in stark relief last month when Fairfax County firefighter Nicole Mittendorff hanged herself in Virginia’s Shenandoah mountains and her department launched an investigation into a series of lurid, degrading posts allegedly written by her co-workers in an online forum.

At a news conference last week, Fairfax Fire Chief Richard Bowers asked the website to remove the anonymous posts about Mittendorff. He promised he would create a task force to examine the department’s environment for discrimination, harassment and bullying. There are 165 women firefighters out of 1,400, he said, and they are entitled to a safe, respectful work environment. He said he would “continue to hold — and have held — people accountable for any proven violation.”But not only are there too many firefighters across the country who act like middle-schoolers, there are also far too many leaders who tolerate it.

Last year, a female firefighter in Albuquerque, N.M., was awarded $183,000 for enduring years of sexual harassment from co-workers, including being grabbed and spied on in the shower. Once, she was asleep on a couch when she woke up and found a colleague standing over her, exposing his genitals.

“And the fire department knew about it,” her attorney told the Albuquerque Journal.

A female firefighter at an Ohio firehouse not far from Cleveland alleged in a 2015 lawsuit that she kept finding semen squirted on her bunk, urine replacing shampoo in her bottle, holes cut into her clothing and the screws loosened on her mask, so that it fell apart when she put it on at a fire scene.

Last year a Tampa Fire Rescue personnel chief, known in his department as “Uncle Touchy,” retired amid accusations that he had tried to kiss a female firefighter in an elevator, along with hugging her and making inappropriate comments.

In Fairfax, the problem is acute, according to Ellen Renaud, an attorney who has been representing female firefighters in sexual harassment cases for the past eight years.

“From what I have seen, sex-based harassment happens to nearly every woman who works for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department,” Renaud said. “Most cope with it, in one way or another. Unfortunately, a ‘go-along-and-get-along’ response to sexual harassment sometimes results in an escalation of an already bad situation.”

Five years ago, a federal jury awarded one of her clients, Mary Getts Bland, $250,000 after finding that the department knew about and tolerated a male lieutenant’s sexual harassment.

Bland is now retired, but she said in her lawsuit and in court testimony that she was targeted from the moment she started working in 2001.

“Do you enjoy having sex with more than one partner?” she was asked by the lieutenant who recruited her into the department. And, “Do you like to be watched while you masturbate?”

Years later, the same guy, Lt. Timothy D. Young, walked past her at a fire scene carrying a long “pike pole” and told her “this looks like it would hurt,” her lawsuit said.

When Bland finally complained, Young was given a written reprimand, ordered to stay away from her and reassigned to a different part of the county. But he wound up being accused by another female firefighter in a lawsuit of making inappropriate comments to her, as well. That case was settled out of court, according to court documents that do not disclose the terms.

Is Fairfax a better place for women now? Well, just a week after Mittendorff’s funeral, Renaud said she is about to file yet another lawsuit on behalf of another Fairfax female firefighter.

Of course, women still face harassment in workplaces everywhere. But here’s why it’s especially scary in America’s firehouses: First responders have intimate contact with us when we are at our most vulnerable.

The guy who graphically describes the nether regions of his female colleagues online — do you want him cutting away your nightgown when you’ve been burned by a fire?

The battalion chief who makes it a game to sleep with as many female recruits as possible — you want him in charge when your teenage daughter is in a horrible accident?

In Mittendorff’s community, the loss of public trust in the fire department is palpable.

“Is there an option to call another department if you are a women in NoVa?” one woman asked on the Fairfax fire department’s Facebook page.

“How could anyone in Fairfax County, VA ever want the FD to come to their aid in a most vulnerable state?” another resident asked. “If I am hurt in my home, how do I know that the people who come to help me are not going to discuss me, my health, my body?”

Mistreating women in the workforce is about more than suppressing dirty jokes. It’s about character, respect and trust.

Retired Fairfax firefighter Eric Lamar, a former union president, has been crusading to restore that trust on his Turnout Blog, asking the department’s leaders to both acknowledge and stop predatory sexual behavior.

Fairfax firefighter Michael Mohler, a former union president who joined the department 40 years ago, said Mittendorff’s death could fuel a transformation of the culture.

“I want this to be that moment. The one that people look back on,” said Mohler, who has twin daughters who are Mittendorff’s age.

This week, he said he drove Mittendorff’s mom to the spot in the Shenandoah Mountains where her daughter killed herself. And he promised her, he said, that he would help make change in the department.

“We’re very good at putting on funerals,” he said. “That’s not enough.”

Monday, May 2, 2016

High Intensity Workouts are Keeping Therapists Busy

Kelli Kennedy
The Washington Post
April 5, 2016

After a few weeks of working out at CrossFit, Charles Banfield says his back hurt constantly and his joints felt terrible. The 47-year-old’s aches and pains were so bad, he initially blamed his bed and purchased a new mattress.

After feeling a searing pain during a particularly grueling exercise, the Los Angeles-based chief executive officer of an event planning company learned he had torn his Achilles’ tendon.

“You miss one step and you could really hurt yourself,” Banfield said.

Although there have not yet been in-depth studies, some chiropractors, physicians and trainers say stories such as Banfield’s have become more frequent with the increasing popularity of high-intensity interval training espoused by CrossFit and similar hybrid-workout gyms.

Such workouts include such high-impact moves as jumping onto platforms and are performed during short periods of time, often without breaks, but some experts say they strain bodies beyond what they’re meant to endure as participants sling sledgehammers over their shoulders and perform headstand push-ups.

The notion that people are overdoing it has spawned an offshoot industry aimed at delivering lower-impact exercise and helping those recovering from injuries to continue breaking a sweat but without exacerbating their problems.

Many people who do the high-intensity workouts aren’t adequately conditioned for such rigorous workouts or have back and spine conditions that could worsen, said Marc Umlas, chief of orthopedic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, who said his office has seen an increase in injuries from workouts at CrossFit and similar programs.

“They plunge headfirst into a high-intensity workout and they get injured,” Umlas said.

Torn tendons and ligaments are a common result, he added.

“Every CrossFit athlete that I see as patients, they have something going on as a result of being in CrossFit,” said Tyler Kallenbach, a Los Angeles-based chiropractor, who noted that knee and shoulder injuries including torn rotator cuffs are common. He estimated that 60 percent of his patients at one point were seeking treatment from CrossFit workouts, where Kallenbach says overtraining is common.

“I’ve got a guy in here who needs his shoulder repaired, a girl who keeps throwing her back out repeatedly. It’s always something with them,” he said.

A spokesman for CrossFit says it’s likely that more doctors are seeing injured CrossFitters — because so many people are doing CrossFit, not because it’s more dangerous than other workouts. The brand has more than 13,000 locations worldwide. A training program that’s completely safe would be ineffective, company spokesman Russell Berger said.

CrossFit is known for varied workouts that include gymnastics-style moves — weightlifting, burpees and jumping onto platforms — performed at relatively high intensity.

“There’s this view in the fitness industry that they treat safety as the golden calf, that the most important variable in training is safety, and that’s just honestly not true. CrossFit is relatively safe and is as safe as anything else you could be doing,” Berger said.

Although it may seem counterintuitive to conduct strength training while injured, experts say it’s the best way to heal.

“Stretching can be complementary to a rehab program, but the focus is usually on the strengthening. Often what we’re trying to do is create a balance between strength and flexibility,” said Kelly McInnis, a sports medicine physiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital who is a consultant for the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox.

Most CrossFit and similar workouts are not meant for average gymgoers, said Jorden Gold, who founded Stretch Zone, which has 33 locations in four states. During the 30-minute sessions, therapists use bolsters and belts to stretch clients.

“The majority have no business being there in the first place,” Gold said. “It’s Olympic training. It’s probably only [suitable for] a very, very small percent that go.”

Los Angeles-based trainer Lauren Roxburgh has created an entire workout around the foam roller, a narrow tube often relegated to post-workout stretching, which she says can smooth out connective tissue, stimulate the lymphatic system and deliver highly effective core strengthening. Roxburgh noticed many clients struggling with injuries from high-intensity workouts and an obsession with training harder and longer.

“In our lifestyle it’s been very much about the doing. . . . It’s all about pushing through, doing, doing, doing, and it hasn’t been enough about the yin, which is the being, being in the moment, being present in our bodies,” she said.

At LIT Method, a studio in Los Angeles that specializes in low-impact workouts for people who are injured, participants’ injuries are written on the side of their rowing machines.

“Eighty-five to 90 percent of our clients are coming in with some sort of injury and they don’t want to get hurt anymore,” said LIT Method co-founder Justin Norris.

He said classes sell out a week in advance: “There was a huge, huge need for this.”