Health And Wellness Concerns

Being able to perform at peak level when called upon is an important element in the fire service. The health and wellness of a firefighter can affect the level of performance as well as result in accident, injury, or death.Downloadable Instructor's Guides...


 

III. WELLNESS CONSIDERATIONS (1-3)

 

  • Nutrition
    • Recent studies have linked poor diet to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other diseases
    • Training can include learning negative effect of certain foods such as those high in unsaturated fats, guidelines for a balanced diet, the results of good nutrition, and effective weight-control diets
    • Information on nutrition issues can be obtained from CDC, state or local health department, or American Heart Association
  • Smoking
    • May affect cardiovascular/pulmonary function
    • May cause cancer
  • Back Care
    • Back injuries rank just below heart disease as a cause of firefighter injury
    • Training would include learning following
      • Techniques for proper lifting and carrying
      • Types of equipment that require assistance for carrying
      • Methods for dragging hoselines
      • Exercises for strengthening back muscles
  • Heart and Lung Diseases
    • Training should include learning
      • Importance of unimpaired lung capacity and unobstructed blood circulation
      • Causes of heart and lung diseases
      • Methods for reducing potential for those diseases
    • Department must implement a policy for use of SCBA in all toxic atmospheres and in suspected or unknown atmospheres
    • Smoking-cessation program should be developed and implemented
  • Infection Control
    • Exposure to a communicable disease can occur just as quickly during cleaning and decontamination of equipment as it can during delivery of patient care
    • Common philosophy is that all patients must be treated as though they have a communicable disease
    • Infection control identifies such issues as
      • Personal protective clothing
      • Mechanical resuscitation equipment
      • Pre-exposure vaccinations for personnel
      • Training and education in infection control
      • Development of standard operating procedures
      • Medical requirements
    • OSHA bloodborne pathogens regulation applies to all occupational exposures to blood or other potentially infectious materials
    • Key to ensuring compliance with regulation is the development of exposure control program and training of members about process for preventing and controlling infection exposure
    • Written plan provides necessary guidelines to ensure compliance and to ensure that personnel understand infection control process
    • Process for controlling potential exposures is accomplished by a thorough training and education program
      • Understanding potential exposure hazards
      • Recognizing appropriate level of protection to be worn or used
      • Knowing methods of caring for an exposure victim
      • Reporting exposure incident
    • Training occurs when an individual is hired and then annual thereafter
    • Detailed contents for training are found in 29 CFR 1910.1030
    • Reporting
      • Fire department must maintain complete records of both exposures to members and member training to meet record keeping requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1030
      • Exposure form, completed at time of exposure, must contain
        • Name and social security number of individual
        • Copy of individual's hepatitis B vaccination status
        • Copy of results of all examinations, medical testing, and follow-up procedures
        • Copy of fire department physician's written opinion
        • Description of employee's duties at time of incident
        • Documentation of circumstances of exposure
        • Results of source individual's blood testing
        • All medical records relevant to treatment of employee
      • Training records, which must be retained for 3 years from time of training, include
        • Dates of training sessions
        • Summary of training given
        • Names and qualifications of training personnel involved
        • Names and job titles of all those attending training sessions
      • Follow-Up
        • Department ensures that medical evaluation and follow-up care occurs within 24 hours after presumed exposure to bloodborne pathogens
        • Following tasks shall be performed during evaluation
          • Document route of exposure and circumstances of exposure
          • Identify source individual if known
          • Test source individual's blood as soon as possible
          • Inform exposed employee of results of testing of source individual
          • Collect and test exposed employee's blood for hepatitis viruses and HIV status
          • Supply post-exposure prophylaxis, if needed, to employee
          • Provide counseling/employee assistance to employee
          • Perform fitness-for-duty evaluation