Monday, November 27, 2017

The Annual Survey Monkey Results: Part 1

You’ve probably noticed that seemingly every webpage comes with a survey. And, maybe we’re suffering from survey fatigue. Or, maybe everyone was joyously pleased with the event in Louisville. Well, not everyone.

Twenty-six people returned the survey. And, yes, I’m aware that we can’t please everyone. Believe me, they’ll let you know. For example, on the subject of the Lion’s Den Dinner, one attendee said that the food was the worst ever, counterbalanced by another who said it was the best. Were they at the same place?

Since the survey is anonymous, I have no way of reaching out for clarification. So, with the hope that you who did make your thoughts known, this is the best forum to say that we read every comment.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll address the wide range of positive suggestions. Some were downright excellent. That’s why we ask. We can’t think of everything.

The biggest challenge is attempting to get the word out to everyone on site, or on their way. The Daily Briefing will return. You may recall in the past that during or Wild Card Eliminations, we’d ask all Competitors to sit in the bleachers. Getting everyone’s undivided attention was the best method of ensuring that you knew that there were goody bags that contained the Program Guide. These, we never ran out of; you just needed to know that they were available.

And, yes, we did screw up the sizes of the Lion Competitor Tees. But, despite our announcements, some never got the word that Thursday, they all showed up. And your ticket stub could be used for redemption.

Seating in the Lion’s Den was limited to 400. As was announced, you need to show up on time if you wanted to sit as a group. The wait staff did attempt to accommodate the small number who arrived too late to claim a table. In a few short weeks, I’ll be doing an advance to Sacramento with the hopes that we can find a venue large enough for perhaps 500.

Topics coming up will be Rule changes, Competition Categories, and a few other housekeeping items. There’s always a forum for getting your thoughts known. Calling the office or sending an email works as well.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jeff Ellis, former Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion

From Martha Ellis, Jeff’s wife

Jeff was in a serious motorcycle accident last night. (Nov 15) He was rushed into surgery to control internal bleeding. They are keeping him in a medically induced coma, cycling him out every hour to test motor function and command response. If they feel he's stable enough tomorrow, they will be putting in a rib plate to stabilize the multiple broken ribs he has. If all indicators are good, they will also sew up his abdomen, which they left open in case there was additional internal bleeding. They are closely monitoring his head injury with CT scans every 6 hours. Several surgeries still to come. All indicators are that he will remain in the ICU for at least 2 weeks, then on to rehab. Thank you for all the calls, texts and posts. Long road ahead. 

No visitors or phone calls at this time. 

I’ll update Jeff’s progress as details become available. 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Muscles recover better after exhausting exercise if they are warmed than if they are chilled, a helpful new study finds.

© 2017, New York Times
By Gretchen Reynolds
Nov. 1, 2017

Muscles recover better after exhausting exercise if they are warmed than if they are chilled, a helpful new study finds.

The results should bring succor to participants in this weekend’s New York City Marathon and other strenuous events this fall who, like me, would rather ease afterward into a sybaritic hot tub than an ice bath. Science is with us.

Athletes and others involved in sports training have long debated how best to help tired muscles recover after draining workouts and competitions. Some experts tout icing. Others prefer ibuprofen tablets. Still, others swear by TENS machines, which use a mild electrical current to stimulate nerves and supposedly reduce soreness.

Little, if any, scientific evidence supports these methods, however. In fact, a number of recent studies have indicated that many of these techniques, especially the use of anti-inflammatory painkillers, can slow muscles’ recovery after harsh exercise and do not reduce soreness.
Other research has shown that icing, which remains the most popular way to treat overworked muscles, does not reduce inflammation in the tired tissues, although it remains a popular choice for many athletes.

Faced with these largely disappointing experimental results, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and other universities began to wonder recently about heat. Might warming muscles after hard exercise help them to regain strength and power?

To find out, they invited five fit, young men and women to a human performance lab and sat them in front of arm-pedaling machines. Then they asked each volunteer to spin the pedals through a series of brief but grueling intervals, followed by 20 minutes of easier but almost nonstop exercise, while the researchers tracked their heart rates and power output.

This routine was designed to exhaust the volunteers’ arm muscles. Many processes are involved in muscular exhaustion, but the one that is best understood is the depletion of the muscles’ glycogen, which is the name for their stored carbohydrates. Once the muscles burn through most of this fuel source, they become weak, tired and cranky, like toddlers in need of a snack.

The Swedish scientists suspected that finding ways to rapidly replenish these stores might help the muscles to recover relatively rapidly from their fatigue.

So they asked their volunteers to consume large amounts of carbohydrates in the two hours after their session of hard pedaling but not to otherwise coddle their muscles.

Then on subsequent visits to the lab, they had the young people repeat the pedaling workout twice more, and immediately afterward, slip long cuffs over their arms that could be heated or chilled with water coils. The cuffs were warmed during one session to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and chilled during another to about 5 degrees. The volunteers wore the cuffs for two hours while also downing carbohydrates.

Finally, at the end of each session, the men and women repeated the interval portion of their original pedaling, since it was the most tiring.

And each of them could pedal hardest at that point if their arm muscles had been warmed beforehand. Their power output then was “markedly better” than after the other two sessions, the scientists write in their paper, suggesting that their muscles had better-regained strength. Their power was worst after their muscles had been cooled.

But these results, while interesting, could not explain why heat might be goosing recovery, so the inquisitive scientists next turned to individual leg-muscle fibers obtained from mice. They attached the fibers to a mechanism that could record the strength of contractions and then zapped the fibers with electricity so that they contracted, over and over. The researchers noted when these contractions slowed, indicating the fibers had grown pooped.

They then tired other fibers before dousing some of them with glycogen and subsequently warming or cooling all of the fibers and restimulating them a final time.

They also examined whether warming or cooling had affected how much glycogen the muscle tissue absorbed.

As with the young men’s and women’s arms, the muscle fibers turned out to have recovered best after being heated — but only if they also had been exposed to glycogen. When the fibers had not received any refueling after their exercise, they did not regain their original power, even after pleasant warming.

The lesson of these findings, published in the Journal of Physiology, seems to be that “warming muscles probably aids in recovery by augmenting the muscles’ uptake of carbohydrates,” says Arthur Cheng, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute, who led the study.

This study looked only at one aspect of recovery after exercise, however, concentrating on how tired muscles might best regain their ability to generate power. It cannot tell us whether warm baths might lessen muscle pain after long, hard exercise. (Unfortunately, most recent studies suggest that nothing substantially reduces this soreness, except time.)

But the study does provide a rationale for filling your bathtub with warm water after a marathon or other hard exertion, grabbing a sports bar or chocolate milk to replace lost carbohydrates, and settling in for a long, revivifying soak.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Seth Godin and the Real Law of Averages

The real law of averages 

If you want to raise the standards of any group, improving the top of the heap isn't nearly as effective as focusing your effort on the base instead.
Simple example: Getting a Prius to go from 50 miles per gallon to 55 miles per gallon isn't nearly as important as getting SUVs to go from 10 miles per gallon to 15. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there are a lot more SUVs than Priuses. The second is that they use far more gallons, so a percentage increase has far more yield. (You can't average averages).
If you care about health and a culture of performance, it's tempting to push Olympic athletes to go just a tenth of a second faster. It's far more effective, though, if you can get 3,000,000 kids to each spend five more minutes a day walking instead of sitting.
Organizations pamper and challenge the few in the executive suite, imagining that one more good decision in the biz dev group could pay off. The thing is, if every one of the 10,000 customer-facing employees was more engaged and kind, it would have a far bigger impact on the company and those it serves.
I think the reason we focus on the few is that it feels more dramatic, seems more controllable and is ultimately easier. But the effective, just and important thing to do is to help the back of the line catch up.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PPE manufacturer refutes 'false' claims about turnout gear hazards

LION president Stephen Schwartz said the elevated cancer risk "derives from the hazardous substances produced by the fire, not the turnout gear that protects firefighters"

Oct 31, 2017

By FireRescue1 Staff
DAYTON, Ohio — In a letter to the editor, the president of an Ohio-based PPE manufacturer is refuting claims that firefighter turnout gear may be hazardous for those donning it for protection.
LION president Stephen Schwartz sent the letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch, which published an article entitled "Firefighters' gear may be hazardous" on Oct. 29 based on a claim by Cincinnati lawyer Robert A. Bilott.
Schwartz added that their gear is tested to meet the NFPA 1971 standard, and that it's "irresponsible to publish false statements." (Photo/Dover AFB)
Schwartz added that their gear is tested to meet the NFPA 1971 standard, and that it's "irresponsible to publish false statements." (Photo/Dover AFB)
In the letter, Schwartz said the article "appears to be based solely on one class action attorney's false statement that firefighter gear is treated or made with chemicals known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctanesulfanic acid (PFOS), and suggestion that firefighter cancers may be attributable to their turnout gear."
Schwartz said LION turnout gear is not treated or made with such chemicals.
"PFOAs and PFOSs have never been components of Lion's turnout gear, either as a coating or as a textile," he writes.
He added that Bilott’s confusion may stem from the industry's past use of PFOA as a "processing aid in the complex process used to manufacture PTFE moisture barrier films and durable water repellent finishes used in many types of water repellent clothing."
PFOA manufacture and use has declined due to an EPA initiative, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters Division of Occupational Health Safety and Medicine. In 2006, the EPA and eight major U.S. companies that manufacture PFOA launched a program to reduce emissions of PFOA by 95 percent in 2010 and to have it phased out in production by 2015.
The IAFF said it may be possible for firefighters to encounter PFOA in fire suppression activities, but "the data to address this are limited and as PFOA is increasingly less common, this is a decreasing concern."
In 2012, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment reviewed several studies and found that even if a person has "direct skin contact with such finishes over the entire skin surface for 12 hours each day, 365 days a year," the maximum exposure is "far lower than the values which are assumed as threshold values for toxicological effects."
Schwartz added that their gear is tested to meet the NFPA 1971 standard, and that it's "irresponsible to publish false statements implying that turnout gear is unsafe because it is allegedly made with PFOA or PFOS." He said that he was "concerned and saddened" by the article and that the elevated cancer risk "derives from the hazardous substances produced by the fire, not the turnout gear that protects firefighters."
The IAFF said they do not recommend that legacy turnout gear be replaced outside of its lifecycle.
"Firefighters wishing to minimize PFOA exposure should continue to wear their PPE, including SCBA, and regularly decontaminate their turnout gear," IAFF officials said.
You can read Schwartz's full letter below.