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To say I am forever grateful to Lieutenant Rankin would be an understatement. He saved my life.
Several things jumped out at me while spending a week in the hospital following my incident. I need to share them in hopes others will save themselves from preventable health emergencies:
• See your doctor. Before you start anything, see your doctor and get a physical. This is the best way to find any underlying issues you may not be aware of – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Crohn’s disease and so many more health issues can be detected easily and treated. Many can be fatal if left unchecked.
• Eat healthy. Watch what you eat. Less fried food, less salt, less caffeine and more fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Remember, garbage in equals garbage out. Portion control is also an easy way to curb your intake of calories. Simply eating healthier will make a tremendous positive impact in your life. You will feel better and subsequently be healthier.
• Get active. Be active at least 60 minutes a day, three or four days a week. Go for a walk, join a gym, ride a bike and take the stairs instead of riding the elevator (or get off the elevator two floors early and walk the rest of the way). Anything helps. The point is to get your heart beating, your feet moving and your body will respond.
• Listen to your body. This, to me, is one of the most important lessons I learned. Had I not listened to what my body was telling me and sought out advice from a doctor, I would probably not be here now. Your body will speak volumes to you; all you need to do is listen and then act.
I am alive today because of the line-of-duty death of Lieutenant Keith Rankin. Because I made a conscious decision to change my lifestyle. Because I listened to my body and called my doctor. And because when it all went bad, I was in the ER at the right time with the right people beside me.
Be aware of your health and take care of yourself. Listen to your body. You may only have one chance to do this right.
William Goldfeder will present “Firefighter Injury and Death” at Firehouse Expo 2012, July 17-21 in Baltimore, MD.
WILLIAM GOLDFEDER, EFO, a Firehouse® contributing editor, has been a firefighter since 1973 and a chief officer since 1982. He is deputy fire chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio, an ISO Class 2 and CAAS-accredited department. Goldfeder has served on numerous National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) committees. He is on the board of directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (representing the Safety, Health and Survival Section), National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, September 11th Families Association and National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System. Goldfeder and Gordon Graham host the free, non-commercial website www.firefighterclosecalls.com. Goldfeder can be contacted at BillyG@Firefighterclosecalls.com.