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    Question Diabetic Firefighters

    I was just wondering if anyone was a type 1 or 2 diabetic. I have a question. If you have a low blood sugar on the fireground or in the burning building what would you do? Do you keep working or do you treat it and act accordingly? I am just about to be 15 and have been type 1 since late 2003. I will be a fire cadet in about a year and i just wanted some tips to keep my blood sugar regulated while responding etc... any information would be helpful thanx

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    I know a guy who is Type 2 and he is closely monitored on the fireground.Any ambulance crew that responds and the rehab officer is made aware that he had responded to the call.
    If he shows signs of low blood sugar,he is immediately ordered to leave the job he is doing and get to the rehab station NOW.
    Though he is a hard charger that often says"Y'all are gonna have to carry me to get me to quit.",he follows that order quickly.
    Don't try to over extend yourself if you have ANY condition that prevents you fro going full out.If you are feeling low blood sugar effects,the time is for you to take care of yourself first.Otherwise,you won't be able to do anyone else at the scene any good.
    Last edited by doughesson; 10-24-2005 at 04:39 PM.

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    thanx. he sounds kind of like me. this is the one thing i really want to do with my life and i don't want anything to screw that up. thanx again

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    I am Type 1 diabetic and have been for 16 years. I commend you or sticking with the FD. Most people would be to afraid. I have a few tips:

    1. Remember if you push yourself to far you are also putting your partner in harms way. He will have to take care of you as well as himself. You may be to young but there was a saying in kind of a cheesy movie"You go, We go" That holds true in my FD as I am sure it does in your FD.

    2. If you wear an insulin pump as I do, take it off. It will not be a problem. But do take it with you if you can.

    3. Keep glucose tabs in your bunker gear. If my suger is 120 or lower I will pop a few in. It will not hurt you. It you work hard you will work it off anyway. But remmeber I have an insulin pump. I can adjust my insulin immediately if my sugar ends up high.

    4. No matter how embarassing it is you need to make sure everyone during drills, calls and fire schools know you are diabetic.

    5. When you are working and sweating it is not as easy to detect a low sugar because of adrenaline, higher oxygen levels and general movement. Be attentive to your needs. You will learn what to watch for over the years.

    6. Be patient with your officers. Until they learn your limits they will be over protective. Although I am Captain, my fire fighters are also over protective of me.

    7. Drink plenty of water. it makes a big difference.

    On a personal note. Please take care of yourself. I did not when I was your age. I ate whateer and, yes had to much drinking going on. I am paying for it know. I am 34 and have had open heart surgery for 5 bypasses. I have diabetic retinopathy on both eyes and have lost some vision and I am at risk for loosing all my vision. All of this is due to me not taking care of myself. Even though you are diabetic you can still do just about anything out there. You just have to stay away from the carbs and alcohol.

    Good luck in your fire career.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cappy05
    I am Type 1 diabetic and have been for 16 years. I commend you or sticking with the FD. Most people would be to afraid. I have a few tips:

    1. Remember if you push yourself to far you are also putting your partner in harms way. He will have to take care of you as well as himself. You may be to young but there was a saying in kind of a cheesy movie"You go, We go" That holds true in my FD as I am sure it does in your FD.

    2. If you wear an insulin pump as I do, take it off. It will not be a problem. But do take it with you if you can.

    3. Keep glucose tabs in your bunker gear. If my suger is 120 or lower I will pop a few in. It will not hurt you. It you work hard you will work it off anyway. But remmeber I have an insulin pump. I can adjust my insulin immediately if my sugar ends up high.

    4. No matter how embarassing it is you need to make sure everyone during drills, calls and fire schools know you are diabetic.

    5. When you are working and sweating it is not as easy to detect a low sugar because of adrenaline, higher oxygen levels and general movement. Be attentive to your needs. You will learn what to watch for over the years.

    6. Be patient with your officers. Until they learn your limits they will be over protective. Although I am Captain, my fire fighters are also over protective of me.

    7. Drink plenty of water. it makes a big difference.

    On a personal note. Please take care of yourself. I did not when I was your age. I ate whateer and, yes had to much drinking going on. I am paying for it know. I am 34 and have had open heart surgery for 5 bypasses. I have diabetic retinopathy on both eyes and have lost some vision and I am at risk for loosing all my vision. All of this is due to me not taking care of myself. Even though you are diabetic you can still do just about anything out there. You just have to stay away from the carbs and alcohol.

    Good luck in your fire career.
    Also consider when responding to a call taking a nutritional shake (ie Boost, Slimfast, Ensure) with you and drink it enroute. This has enough carbs and protein to sustain you for a while.
    I have been a diabetic for 13 years, and have learned what to do and what not to do the hard way. I am in the process of getting my blood sugars under tighter control.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cappy05
    2. If you wear an insulin pump as I do, take it off. It will not be a problem. But do take it with you if you can.
    How does your pump conflict with the rest of your life? I have given some thought to it, but dont like to advertise the fact that I am diabetic, and already have enough stuff on my belt with my pager and cell phone. The thought of having a cannula stuck in my stomach continually is a strange thought. I have had IDDM since diagnosis 13 years ago, and am hoping to get tighter control of my blood sugars. I am considering the pump as a tool to do that. Of course exercise and watching what I eat are part of it.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    you say you have a pump? what exactly is it like? I have also been considering getting a pump but, like you said, it would feel strange to have something stuck in me. i was diagnosed through ketoacidosis, so after that, i don't want any tubes, cords, anything like that stuck in me.

    for cappy05: thanks for your advice. i do pre-treat alot when i ride bikes or whatever. as far as the you go we go, i think i may have saw that movie. the line seems familiar. I eat whatever. however, i take a type of insulin called lantus, which works for 24 hrs. I take that at night, and then if i eat or drink anything with carbs in it (with the exception of me bieng low) i take humalog. i carry around the pen. i don't know what kind of insulin you take, but my stuff works. occasionaly my blood sugar will get high, but overall it isn't the worst. everyone around me is overprotective. the other day i was doing some prarie work with my high school science club cutting down trees. everyone 20 minutes, the teacher would ask if i was okay. it was on a sunday and i volunteered to help. thanks for the advice

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakebty
    you say you have a pump? what exactly is it like? I have also been considering getting a pump but, like you said, it would feel strange to have something stuck in me. i was diagnosed through ketoacidosis, so after that, i don't want any tubes, cords, anything like that stuck in me.

    for cappy05: thanks for your advice. i do pre-treat alot when i ride bikes or whatever. as far as the you go we go, i think i may have saw that movie. the line seems familiar. I eat whatever. however, i take a type of insulin called lantus, which works for 24 hrs. I take that at night, and then if i eat or drink anything with carbs in it (with the exception of me bieng low) i take humalog. i carry around the pen. i don't know what kind of insulin you take, but my stuff works. occasionaly my blood sugar will get high, but overall it isn't the worst. everyone around me is overprotective. the other day i was doing some prarie work with my high school science club cutting down trees. everyone 20 minutes, the teacher would ask if i was okay. it was on a sunday and i volunteered to help. thanks for the advice

    I am glad to share some info about the pump. It does not interfere with anything else in my life. If anything ti aids in my life. I still work on cars, I still do my own home improvements and just about eerything else as I did before. What I do not do is because I am getting older not because of my pump. The cannula is no big deal. I basically only put one in every three to four days, depending on usage. That is better than give 3 or more shots a day. It really is not obstrusive on my belt. I actually right now carry it on the inside of my right pants pocket. It took about a week to get comfortable with it being there.

    Jakebty, you take exactly the insulin I took. The pump only uses Humalog. You still buy the sme vials you do now. You draw the insulin out of the vial into a 300cc syringe about 1 1/2" long. You connect the cannula and prime the tube. Then you pick you a spot and pop it in. The pump evenly distributes a steady drip over the 24 hour period. Say you take 24 units of Lantis. Then the pump will very slowly pump out 1.0 units over an entire hour. If you take 36 units of Lantis then the pump will pump out 1.5 units over an hour. So on and so forth. When eating you can dial in how many units of insulin you need to give based on blood sugar and what you are eating. But also if you use the Glucmeter that comes with the pump it will transmit your sugar to the pump, then you can dial in how many carbs you are eating and then the pump will figure the insulin doasge for you.

    I stringly encourage the pump. My numbers are terrific, A1C 6.0, Hemoglobin 5.5. The only thing I would say to watch out for with the pump is gaining weight. Your bidy will process food betrer therefore you will gain weight.

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    i take 24 units of lantus @10pm and 1 unit of humalog for every 10 carbs i eat. right now i am in the process of getting sick so my blood sugar will get high then low. so pretty soon i will change it. i am talking with the clinic right now(not at this moment) in the diabetes center. we will be filling out the paperwork within the next couple of weeks so i can get the pump. the hospital says i am a good candidtate for the pump because my blodd sugar is on a roller coaster ride. it don't get over 350, but still i want the pump. i want to work for a major department like dallas or fort worth. can they hold it against me that i'm diabetic? by the way, if i get the pump , will i still have to take my lantus? thanks

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    Last question first....No you will not have to take any other insulin. the purpose of other insulins other than Humalog or Regular is to slowly release or work throughout the day. They all do the same thing. The pump takes care of all of this for me.

    The department can not hold it against you for having an insulin pump but they can ask if you can perfrom the job requirements. Diabetes is covered under the ADA laws. But once you are hired you must disclose that you have diabetes, which most likely would be uncovered in the physical and drug tests anyway. You should be able to if you are physically healthy. But remember, there is a lot more in the fire service than just being a fire fighter. If you can not perform the duties of a fire fighter there is many more areas you can do, arson investigation, research, instructing, code coordinator, the list goes on and on.

    I took 34 units of Lantis and 1.2 units for every 10 carbs. And yes sometimes I have to adjust but the pump makes it so easy for you and your doctor you should be able to manage better. I am a little, OK a lot, older than you so my doctor allows me to adjust mine on my own as long as I let him know. No one knows your body better than you so be sure to let the doctors know everything.

    Keep that goal of yours. Fire service is an honorable career. Do not let anyone hold you back. Just remember because you are diabetic you will have to work a little harder at showing everyone you can do the job.

    Ane more note, early in one of my posts i stated my health problems. I want them to scare you because it is a serious possiblility but when I became diabetic the treatsments were not as good as they are now. You have a number of more options to keep you healthy.

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    i talk with my parents about changing my doses, they say yes or no. if yes, i tell my doctor. i am very well aware of the consequences if my diabetes is poorly controlled. after going through ketoacidosis for about half a day, that is something a person will never forget. i thanked those paramedics after i came out of it when they came to visit me. after going through that, i am doing my best to stay under control. i am full of different questions about becoming a fireman, i don't mean to pick at you. alot of major departments require college. if i graduate the academy, will i still have to go to college?

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    Then keep the diabetes under control.If you have experienced what happens when you do not,then that should encourage you to keep it from happening again,right?
    On the subject of college,it won't hurt to take fire science classes and get as knowledgeable as possible about the fire service.
    If it means going to college,then go to college.Find out if your department with cover any costs,or if the college has scholarships for firefighters or any that you could qualify for.
    This is one job that you can never learn it all in.I've only been in it two years and have seen that without someone telling me.
    Hope I've been of help to you.



    Quote Originally Posted by jakebty
    i talk with my parents about changing my doses, they say yes or no. if yes, i tell my doctor. i am very well aware of the consequences if my diabetes is poorly controlled. after going through ketoacidosis for about half a day, that is something a person will never forget. i thanked those paramedics after i came out of it when they came to visit me. after going through that, i am doing my best to stay under control. i am full of different questions about becoming a fireman, i don't mean to pick at you. alot of major departments require college. if i graduate the academy, will i still have to go to college?

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    College is great for any career. Although I know of a department or two that would rather you not have any experience with fire fighting so they could teach you their way. But all departments want you to have thinking, reasoning and communication skills. You could focus college courses on those type of classes. Fire programs usually have courses for those particular reasons.

    You also have another option for college funding. My college was paid for by Vocational Rehabilitation. They only pay for one degree though I had to get hte others on my own. Also check with the IAFC. My son just got a scholarship from them for me being a diabetic. He is in Fire Sciences and Engineering at Eastern Kentucky University (an excellent school for this career).

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    i will check that out. thanks.

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