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Our thought is to issue a tablet to each firefighter as their personal tablet. The tablet would be used for them to log into their department email, handle their personal electronic timecard, virtually attend all their fire and EMS training which we are pushing the bulk of the didactic to online, input all their patient-care reports and handle other department-related business. The idea is to mobilize our firefighters and create a business solution that allows them to maximize their time and energy. Of course, we would need to lock the tablet down to business use only.
The shift to mobilizing the firefighter will allow us to reduce out of service time spent going to and from the training centers for didactic presentations (this should lower fuel costs also). As fire service leaders, fewer and fewer of us can afford apparatus to be out of service at any time during the day for non-emergency-related activities. We must continually search for ways to become more efficient and utilize the growing talents of this new generation of firefighter.
Firehouse: How important are physical fitness and wellness for the members?
Myers: There is nothing more important than the health and welfare of our members. We have invested heavily in health and safety within Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. Every fire station has its own gym with state-of-the-art equipment. We have two full-time physicians on staff (one of them is our deputy chief over medical services) and we operate a full-time medical clinic for our firefighters.
The annual physical our firefighters receive is a serious evaluation of their physical fitness and wellness. It is a confidential exam that includes a VO2 Max test and a physical fitness prescription. Every firefighter sits with our physician privately for a half-hour consultation after their physical is completed. This consultation is provided specifically to make sure the firefighter has access to a clinical professional that can help them with whatever it is they are going through.
Firefighters face unique problems; they see things in their line of work most humans don’t, it’s accumulative and it’s real. Drug and alcohol abuse, domestic issues, depression and confidence issues are all very real and should not be ignored by any fire department. Any fire leader who suggests their department doesn’t have these types of issues with their firefighters isn’t looking for them; they are there.
We take wellness seriously. We allow our firefighters, if they wish, to go to a local gym in their response area on duty. The gyms in Las Vegas are amazing and offer a workout opportunity that is unparalleled. We take a bit of heat for this every year when a member of the public complains about our firefighters working out on duty, but it’s easily defended. We want our firefighters to be out in their neighborhood with the community. But most importantly, we want our firefighters healthy, fit and ready to go do their jobs. I am proud of our firefighters because I know that whatever they are asked to do, they are willing, fit and able to do it.