Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Retrospective Analysis of Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge Athletes

We aggregated data from 2007 forward (≈20K firefighters) to build this dataset, and looked at average and top performers time (in seconds) on the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge (five linked fire ground activities). [We have over 40,000 records going back to our inception in 1991]

The Firefighter Combat Challenge has been touted as the "Toughest Two Minutes in Sports" by ESPN, our broadcast partners. At the World Championships in Louisville this past October 2017, a sample of male firefighters participated in a blood lactate study, that confirmed the intense, anaerobic nature of this all-out sport. This study will be a doctoral dissertation and published in the not too distant future.

The results are not surprising, but nevertheless, striking.

The validity of the five fire suppression tasks has been repeatedly linked to actual on-the-job behavioral requirements through formal job task analyses. All competitors were wearing SCBA and their PPE (personal protective ensemble- a version of MOPP gear) with a total weight of ≈40 pounds. The climb of a five-story tower, with a 42lb (19Kg) shoulder load, that can be accomplished in as little as 12 seconds by the elite participant, is a calculated energy production is 1.5 HP. The final task, lifting and dragging backward a ≈80Kg (175lb) anatomically correct mannequin a distance of 106 feet is frequently accomplished in as little as 12 seconds.

Keep in mind, that virtually every firefighter could (or should) be capable of performing the Combat Test in about six minutes (the official cut-off time for the Scott Combat Challenge). What makes this a real Challenge is to see what insane time, under six minutes, you do.

Each of the gender groups is large samples. These are self-selected participants, and to that end, are probably not representative of the North American fire service.(I.e., they are more likely to be in the 85th percentile and above.) There are some repeated measures in this cohort. But, with 942 female data points, and 18,021 males, it's a reasonable way to examine trends over a career. Female firefighters are a very small cohort of this universe (≈3.5%) and 5% of the firefighter population.

Some observations from these data: The top-performing women are consistently above the male average at any age. Their small numbers show a trend line that is more variable (as would be expected). The males continue to show amazing performance time at ages when most firefighters have retired (i.e, in their 50's and 60's). Of course, that fact that they're still competing is in and of itself, remarkable.

From a leadership perspective, this speaks loudly as to viability and sustainability of public safety employees, particularly firefighters, who see the value of a personal fitness program as a protection against the ravages of a physically demanding and dangerous occupation. (The one, radially up-sloping datapoint at the extreme right side is the retired 69-year-old Fire Chief of Carlsbad NM. (We do not recommend 70-year-olds to try this competition!)

If you're talking about leading from the front, there's no better platform by which to demonstrate that you can be fit across the entire spectrum of public safety employment - but it will not happen by accident.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

12 Of The Most Potent Disease-fighting Foods On The Planet

The most harmful and deadly diseases plaguing America today are caused, in part, by food--cheap, low-quality processed foods high in sugar, fat, salt, genetically modified ingredients-and pesticides. But when you reach for whole, nutrient-dense, organic foods, you get a food-remedy toolkit that not only will help ward off cancer and heart disease, but also colds, flu, allergies, and a host of other ailments that plague us every day. The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods by James A. Duke, Ph.D., recommends 12 foods to allow your body to better ward off everything from cancer and colds to arthritis and menopause.

1. Beans - Beans are one of the cheapest healthy foods you can buy, and their high isoflavone content helps ward off heart disease, improve bone and prostate health, and ease some symptoms of menopause. Being low in fat and high in protein, beans are easy swaps for red meat, so add them to soups, stews, dips, and even pasta sauces (pureed white beans can be used as a substitute for high-fat Alfredo sauces). Nutrient-wise, it doesn't make much difference if you use dried or canned.

2. Garlic and Onions - Members of the same plant family, garlic and onions do so many things for your heart and immune system; it's hard to list them all. Garlic's 70 active phytochemicals may decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points, and it's been shown to lower rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Onions are the single best source of quercetin, a flavonoid (also found in apples) shown to keep your blood healthy and prevent clots. Both are must-haves for natural allergy prevention.

3. Caffeinators - Caffeinated foods, including coffee, chocolate, and tea, have high levels of polyphenols, dubbed "super" antioxidants for their ability to fight everything from cancer to depression. A Harvard University study even found that drinking five cups of coffee daily cuts the risk of developing diabetes in half. Dark chocolate is better than sugary milk chocolate or white.

4. Celery - Rich in minerals, vitamin C, and phenolic acids, it helps ward off cancer, cold and flu, and allergies. Compounds called phthalides make it a good cholesterol-lowering food remedy, too. The more the better, most research suggests. Duke says to eat at least four stalks a day.

5. Cinnamon - Cinnamon's most notable and studied benefit to the immune system has been its ability to lower blood sugar. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that the Christmas-y spice could lower blood sugar by 13 to 23 percent. The author of that study suspected that had to do with cinnamon's antioxidants, which activate insulin receptors in your cells. A German study showed that it could suppress Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, the cause of most urinary tract infections, and Candida albicans, the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections.

6. Citrus Fruits - The stars of the fall and winter fruit season, citrus fruits contain close to 200 cancer-fighting compounds, cholesterol-lowering fiber, and inflammation-lowering flavonoids. An Australian review of 48 studies on diet and cancer found that consuming a daily serving of citrus fruit may cut your risk of mouth, throat, and stomach cancer by up to one half. Grapefruits are also high in lycopene, a cancer-fighter usually found in tomatoes, which are out of season when grapefruit is at its peak.

7. Ginger - Though widely used as an effective antidote to queasiness, it can also keep cholesterol levels under control, lower blood pressure, and help ease the inflammation associated with arthritis. Researchers have also found that ginger helps kill the influenza virus, plus it helps the immune system fight infection. A study at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Miami found that ginger extract significantly reduced pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee. About an ounce a day will bring benefits, Duke says.

8. Mint - There are actually hundreds of plants in the mint family that you may have never realized were technically classified as mints, including basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, sage, and lemon balm. When used in teas, these herbs can soothe an upset stomach, but emerging research suggests that their individual compounds can prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps keep your memory sharp.

9. Peppers - Spicy chile peppers have high levels of capsaicin, which interferes with your mind's pain receptors, and therefore act as natural painkillers. Capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat, has also been found to aid in weight loss by keeping your metabolism in check. Sweet peppers have a similar compound called dihydrocapsiate that comes without the spicy kick of capsaicin but with the same effects on pain and weight loss. They also contain loads of vitamin C and beta-carotene.

10. Pomegranates - Pomegranates have been used for centuries in the Middle East, Iran, and India as a folk remedy, Duke writes, and for good reason. They're a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants that ward off cancer. They could also help fight Alzheimer's disease. Loma Linda University researchers discovered that mice that consumed pomegranate juice experienced 50 percent less brain degeneration than animals that drank sugar-water. Pace University researchers found that pomegranate juice can kill the S. mutans bacteria, one of the main causes of cavities.

11. Turmeric - A relative of ginger, turmeric is the spice that gives curries their vivid golden hue and yellow mustard its bright color. For thousands of years, people in India have considered turmeric a healing herb. Studies show that it protects the stomach, helping to prevent ulcers, and it aids in the digestion of fats. The spice may also fight Alzheimer's disease. Researchers have found that elderly villagers in India appear to have the world's lowest rate of the disease, possibly because of the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin in turmeric.

12. Walnuts - A great source of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that curbs your appetite, as well as vitamin E, magnesium, folate, protein, and fiber. Walnuts boast more heart-healthy omega-3 fats than salmon, making them a good antidote to seasonal depression. This wonder nut is also packed with anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Many of the compounds in walnuts, such as vitamin B5 and folic acid, can be destroyed by heat, so it's best to eat them raw. 

Rodale's Organic Life has the report.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mudslides in Santa Barbara County

While in Sacramento last week with Chief Walt White, we had non-stop rain. But, not as bad as S.B. County.

This news segment from ABC is a must watch.


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