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  1. #1
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    Default Question about Physical Requirements - Migraines

    My son is looking at becoming a firefighter and he's a great team player and very physically fit. However, over the the last three years he's had some attacks that seem to be a special type of migraine, where he effectively loses all strength and coordination of his muscles. The triggers are the same as migraines (lack of sleep, lack of food, stress, bright lights) and he seems to have an aura before the attacks, but there is no real head pain. He was tested by a neurologist for epilepsy and epilepsy was ruled out, and he has been cleared to drive. However there's one incident where he was in a car accident (no injuries), and just the sight of the ambulance tech checking out his little sister triggered an attack.

    I know migraines are listed as "category B" in NFPA 1582, but I'm not sure what that means. Are there any firefighters out there that deal with heavy migraines? Any thoughts on how this condition could affect his ability to perform his duties?


  2. #2
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    when applying anywere your son does not have to disclose that due to HIPPA laws that being said do you really think firefighting is the right job for him if he`s crawling a hall or climbing a ladder not to mention the thousands of other senarios and has an attack thats life or death time just something to think about

  3. #3
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    I am not saying he can't get a job in the fire service, however, I personally know someone(a great guy) who has not been able to get a job due to the same thing(or at least something very similar).
    The person I knew ended up throwing in the towel because he couldn't, in good faith, take the job and have the possibility of his medical issue becoming a problem at the wrong moment.

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    Sounds like need to find out why this is happening, before looking for a job

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly10 View Post
    when applying anywere your son does not have to disclose that due to HIPPA laws that being said do you really think firefighting is the right job for him if he`s crawling a hall or climbing a ladder not to mention the thousands of other senarios and has an attack thats life or death time just something to think about
    No such thing as HIPPA.

    As far as I know, HIPAA (thats 1 P and 2 A's) would only prevent the department from obtaining information directly from a healthcare provider. It has nothing to do with disclosure of medical history by the individual themselves. Also, as HIPAA only applies to organizations who bill health insurance.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tann3r View Post
    The person I knew ended up throwing in the towel because he couldn't, in good faith, take the job and have the possibility of his medical issue becoming a problem at the wrong moment.
    Sounds like they made a very difficult decision, but the right one.

    In the fire service if you have a potential problem that can affect your ability to function on an emergency scene, then you are not only endangering your own life, but those of your fellow firefighters and victims.

  7. #7
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    I could see regular migraines being ok but if these are sudden and cause him to lose coordination, strength and consciousness, I wouldnt feel comfortable working with him.

    Everything is handled on a case-by-case basis but tell him not to put all his eggs in the firefighting basket. He can definitely try but tell him to get a back up career in case he is denied by multiple fire departments.

    I will add that he will have trouble hiding this. Dont encourage him to lie. HIPPA, HIPAA or however is it acronym'd has no place in public safety. He will sign waivers to any and all privacy rights during his background investigations

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KB1OEV View Post
    No such thing as HIPPA.

    As far as I know, HIPAA (thats 1 P and 2 A's) would only prevent the department from obtaining information directly from a healthcare provider. It has nothing to do with disclosure of medical history by the individual themselves. Also, as HIPAA only applies to organizations who bill health insurance.
    i`m pretty sure that HIPPA covers all medical you do not have to disclose any info to any employer and that employer is not allowed to obtaine any of your medical history and sorry on the 1p and 2 a`s smartass

  9. #9
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    E. Employers usually obtain medical information about their employees by asking employees to authorize disclosure of medical records. This can occur in several ways not covered by HIPAA. Unfortunately, the laws in only a few states require employers to establish procedures to keep employee medical records confidential. (For example, California Civil Code §56.)

    A potential employer may ask for medical information as part of an employment background check, with limitations as explained below. To learn more on employment background checks and an employer's obligations under the FCRA, read PRC Fact Sheet 16: Employment Background Checks, and the FTC's website on background checks.

    According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in workplaces with more than 15 employees (ADA text, 42 USC §12101 et seq.)

    •Employers may not ask job applicants about medical information or require a physical examination prior to offering employment. After employment is offered, an employer can only ask for a medical examination if it is required of all employees holding similar jobs.
    •If you are turned down for work based on the results of a medical examination, the employer must prove that it is physically impossible for you to do the work required.
    You can look up the info for your son at privacyrights.org

  10. #10
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    Your son sounds like a great kid. He absolutely has an obligation to disclose it and will be asked about his medical history during a pre-employment medical exam. The real question is whether or not this is the right career choice for him. From what you describe it is not.

    While it MAY never be an issue. What if he is pulling a hoseline through a house with a partner looking for a known person trapped and has another attack? Now all efforts to save the civilian will be abandoned to save the downed firefighter (who had a known problem). All efforts to save the civilian are abandoned. You get the picture.

    Another cause for concern is the description you provided of his last attack. You said it occurred when the ambulance crew was assessing his sister. Was it brought on by witnessing a stressful situation? The job has its stressful moments and he will routinely be expected to perform under a great deal of stress.

    I see why the other person with a similar medical history decided to decline the job offer. This does not seem like the right career choice for him.
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief
    Aspiringfirefighters.com
    AspiringFireOfficers.com

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