I am pleased today to kick off my IAFC Presidential initiative, If You Don’t Feel Well, Don’t Make It Your Farewell, to raise awareness throughout the fire and emergency service about the fatal risks of firefighters ignoring signs of a cardiac event.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 41% of firefighter deaths in 2018 were attributed to sudden cardiac death.
Today we launch the initiative with a powerful video illustrating how ignoring the symptoms and signals our bodies send during cardiac incidents too often leads to death. The IAFC has developed the Cardiac Awareness Toolkit to assist fire service leaders in helping educate their departments and begin to change the culture of denial in the profession.
The toolkit contains many resources available for download:
· Sample policies and strategy development tools
· Research papers
· Training and media tools
Almost half of all firefighter deaths each year are cardiac-related. Many who have experienced but survived a cardiac incident have reported not feeling right, not feeling well, or something is wrong. The best way to change the culture of ignoring warning signs that are not always chest tightness and shortness of breath is through education and awareness.
If you’re a first responder and do not feel well, you need to act and those around you need to act. If a firefighter tells you ‘something is wrong’ or ‘I don’t feel right’ or any similar statement, do not tell them to go home or lay down in the bunk hall. Their body is sending them a signal that something could be seriously wrong.
Many thanks to founding partner AMR and supporting partner PulsePoint for making this initiative possible. To learn more, visit IAFC.org/dontfeelwell.