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.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

If Firefighters had to do their jobs like Policemen

A fire truck with one firefighter driving it would be sent to an address without a clear indication of the problem.  The complainant is a neighbor who said they saw smoke or steam or something coming from the house, or vehicle or alley.  When the fire truck pulls up, the complainant runs outside and yells at the fireman for taking too long, and tells him not to park in front of his house.  

The fireman sees smoke coming out of the house in question, so he knocks on that door.  After 15 minutes of knocking, the door is opened by a person who speaks English as a second language, poorly, who says there is no fire, even as smoke is billowing out the door he is standing in.  The homeowner tells the fireman to screw off and slams the door in the fireman’s face.  The fireman goes to his truck, gets on his computer to see if the house has had issues in the past.  He finds out that this house has had a history of fires, and now sees smoke and flames on the roof.  

Since the house is obviously on fire, the fireman requests permission to fight the fire, and gives reasons why he believes the house is on fire.  Neighbors are now banging on the fire truck screaming for the fireman to do something.  A bystander is making a video with his cell phone and demanding the fireman’s name and badge number.  The fireman radios for another truck with two firemen on it.  An hour goes by before they get official permission to fight the fire, and turn on the hoses to put water on the house.  Neighbors complain that the trucks are too loud.  Firemen go inside, resuscitate the homeowner and put out the fire.

The fireman then sits in his truck writing up his report about the fire while eating a convenience store burrito and drinking cold coffee.

His report says why he thought the house was actually burning, how the fire was put out, and that that they took no more steps than absolutely necessary.  He makes a list of all those affected by the fire, including names, dates of birth, and addresses, and how they were affected.  Before completing this report, he is sent to fight another fire across town.  This process is repeated three more times during his shift.  When his shift is over, he reports back to headquarters and submits his reports to the Captain, who wants to know if all the houses in the report had really been on fire, and if he was justified in putting the fires out.

Seven months later the fireman goes to court to swear that the house was on fire, and that he was sent to the house to fight the fire.  The homeowners’ lawyer cross-examines the fireman about the temperature of the flames in both Celsius and Fahrenheit,  what stage the fire was in when the fireman pulled up, the color of the carpet in the house, how much water was used to put the fire out, and why did they break the front window, and why they broke the lock on the front door.  Would the house have burned if no firemen had showed up?  Who reported the fire; how did they know it was smoke and not steam?  Was the fire truck properly certified, and when.  Was the fireman’s training up to date?  

Five months later the court rules that the house had been on fire and the fireman was justified in putting it out.  But the report chastises the fireman for damage to the rug, wrecking the shrubs, and bruising the homeowner’s ribs while doing CPR.  

The homeowner is awarded damages, and the fireman has a disciplinary letter added to his file for ruining the shrub.

Six months later the fireman gets a photo radar ticket for speeding on his way to the fire, and has to go back to court to justify his actions.


Friday, January 11, 2019

More Good News on the Long Term Benefits of Fitness

Men’s cardiorespiratory fitness affects stroke risk, researchers say

Carolyn Crist, 
Washington Post 
Health and Science Section, 
Jan 8, 2019

Low fitness levels have long been tied to higher risk for heart problems. Now researchers say men’s cardiorespiratory fitness is tied to their risk for stroke, as well.

Researchers in Norway followed 2,014 middle-aged men for more than 20 years. Those who were unfit for the whole study period, or who started out fit but became less so, were twice as likely to have a stroke as those who stayed fit or became fit, they reported in the International Journal of Stroke.

“Stroke is a devastating condition that can be lethal and leaves most patients disabled or speech-impaired for life,” said lead study author Erik Prestgaard, a doctor with Oslo University Hospital, in a phone interview. “Prevention is important,” he added, “and patients can directly change their fitness.”

The men in the study were enrolled in 1972-1975 at ages 40 to 59. At the start and again seven years later, their cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed with a bicycle test and with measurements of blood pressure and heart rate. Researchers then followed the men’s health for about 24 years through medical records and national registries.

Based on the men’s cardiorespiratory fitness trend between the initial assessments seven years apart, about 39 percent of them “remained fit” (which means they maintained an average fitness level throughout). Another 39 percent “remained unfit” (started out below average and stayed there). Eleven percent “became unfit” (dropped from above average), and another 11 percent “became fit” (improved from below average to above average).

Overall, 199 men had strokes, with the highest risk seen among those who became unfit.

The average age of first stroke was 73 in both of the unfit groups, 75 in the “remained fit” and 77 in the “became fit” groups, the study team said.

Men who had higher fitness levels while younger and became unfit had twice the stroke risk as men who remained fit, the study also found. Similarly, those starting with low fitness levels who became fit cut their stroke risk in half compared with those who stayed unfit.

“You would expect that fitness would reduce the risk of stroke, but we were surprised by the large reduction,” Prestgaard said. In further analyses, he said, “each small improvement in fitness helped.”

Future studies should confirm these findings using better measures of cardiorespiratory fitness than were available in the 1970s, the authors said.

The recently updated “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans” says adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.

“Fitness recognizes no age, and it’s never too old to start exercising,” said Peter Kokkinos of Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Washington, D.C. “This study shows that exercise benefits last for years, and you can see the difference all the way to 25 years,” he said in a phone interview. “Early changes have lasting effects.”


Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Challenge Goes to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting

The American College of Sports Medicine hosts the 3M | Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge® at its 66th Annual Meeting, the last week in May 2019 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). The Worldwide membership of the college is north of 55,000; approximately 7,000 will be in attendance. 

The Challenge will take place next door, on the parking lot of the Rosen Center. 

For three days, Monday, through Thursday, we will welcome members of the College to organize three-to-five person relay teams, based upon their academic affiliation. We are recruiting Challenge Competitors to coach the teams in preparation for a seeding round run prior to the Finals. 

The Collegiate Cup Challenge Championship will take place 9PM (2100hrs) Thursday night, under the lights, as 32 Colleges and Universities go head to head in an NCAA-style, single elimination tournament. Membership on a team requires a common educational, or HealthCare affiliation including undergraduate, or graduate student, or faculty member. 

All team members will execute a hold harmless waiver and be issued a fire helmet and gloves for their race. Athlete apparel will be appropriate and supplied by individuals. 

The basics: There are five linked evolutions, with a baton pass between each of the competitors. An instructional video may be viewed here: «in production; the link will be up shortly»

The seeding round will be used to populate the 32 brackets, with the first round of 16 races and 8 the next, etc. Advancement is not based on time, but the order of finish. 

Time slots for practice will be made through EventBrite® on a first-come basis. Thirty minutes of course time will be allocated, with two teams per half hour. More practice time will be allocated, based on demand. 

There will be a 2-hour occupational health and fitness Symposium on Friday, open free of charge for all active duty firefighters. 

An official Regional Event will take place on Friday with Individuals and Teams with Tandems and Relays on Saturday. Start times to be determined. 

All coaches will have their entry fees waived. 

Questions: Give Daniel a call at the office: 301.421.4433

Thursday, January 3, 2019

In the Opioid Crises, What It Takes to Save a Life: A TED Talk

As a fire chief and first responder, Jan Rader has spent her career saving lives. But when the opioid epidemic hit her town, she realized they needed to take a brand-new approach to life-saving. In this powerful, hopeful talk, Rader shows what it's like on the front lines of this crisis -- and how her community is taking an unusual new approach to treating substance-abuse disorder that starts with listening.

To watch Chief Rader’s TED Talk, click here: TED Talk by Chief Jan Rader

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Tried STRAVA Yet?

If you're looking for a cool smart phone app to track your physical activity, I suggest Strava. I believe that it's still free, although you might have to search the site for the fine print on "free."

Strava will track just about any ambulatory kind of activity. My favorites are running, walking (as in touring) and the low impact benefits of cycling.

My running is on hold while I'm recovering from a partial tear of my Achilles that took place the last day of WCXXVII in Sacramento.

Here's one of the cool benefits is the production of a MP4 file, summarizing your activities over the year.

I just downloaded mine for 2018; here it is:

POD’s 2018 Year in Review in Video