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Wellness is to Training as Health is to the Fire Ground! A direct correlation that may save your life

I am honored to feature a guest post from my good friend Bobby Drake. Bobby is a Firefighter/EMT-B with Hanover Fire and EMS, and has a ton of experience. We met in high school while he was still volunteering for the Courthouse Volunteer Fire Department in Hanover and soon after he transferred to my station Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department. Bobby has been a volunteer fire officer, police officer, fire safety officer for a university, and is currently a career firefighter with Hanover assigned as a firefighter with Truck Company 6 the first career staffed truck company in the county. Additionally Bobby is also on the staff for the Virginia Fire Officer Program, and an avid fitness enthusiast. I hope you enjoy this post from him and he has assured me there is more to come!

Health and wellness are two terms we often hear in today’s fire service. Yet most have not embraced their true meaning. In a profession such as ours, the ever-changing demands require us to be flexible in both body and mind. ! We can all remember the days of learning about analogies in school. In this instance, Wellness is to Training as Health is to the Fire Ground. !

Health and Wellness! Being prepared is exactly what wellness is. According to the World Health Organization, wellness is defined as, “the active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.” This process requires thought, trial and error. When one takes on this process they are “training” for health. ! So we ask, “What is health ?”  The World Health Organization defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  ! Therefore, the end goal is all-encompassing and is the direct result of ones attitude towards their overall health and well-being.

The Correlation! Since the beginning of the fire service we have prided ourselves on  preparation and training for the “unthinkable.” This was always an effort to be ready for whatever the world would throw at us.! So, I ask, “Why are we not utilizing this same attitude towards health and wellness ?”  We know that attitude, effort and hard work applies to our training regiments which is why we are the most dynamic of professionals that exists in the world today. ! We prepare our departments to take on any task. However, do we prepare ourselves individually?  I believe, we become so driven towards teamwork and group approaches, that we forget we still have individual identity that requires training and preparation. !

Promoting Wellness! Your shift can only be as strong as the weakest link.  Knowing this we should pride ourselves on not only training and preparing those individuals for the fire ground, but more importantly, teaching and promoting an attitude towards wellness. ! This positive attitude in the station can be become contagious and promote positive change outside of the workplace. These are the changes that lead to overall health which empowers a happier, more productive, safer and better fire service.  So remember, we have an abundance of history and traditions to pass on. With my experience, I believe the best tradition to start, teach, and promote is the simple correlation that TRAINING is to WELLNESS as the FIRE GROUND is to HEALTH.

Bobby Drake has 15 yeas experience with the Hanover Fire-EMS Department in Hanover, VA. He is an ACE Certified Peer Fitness Trainer and the Public Information Officer for the 2015 Virginia Fire Officer Academy “Safety Through Leadership” Program

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