NVFC, Johns Hopkins Team Up for Heart Health

June 25, 2008
Firefighter health and wellness is a priority of the NVFC.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded a $1 million grant to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) to complete a three-year research project in collaboration with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). The goals of the project are to identify modifiable barriers to implementing wellness and fitness interventions among firefighters and fire departments and to develop and test a pilot intervention.

Firefighter health and wellness is a priority of the NVFC. The organization launched the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program in 2003, the nation's only heart attack prevention and awareness campaign targeted at all firefighters, both volunteer and career.

"Heart disease is the number one cause of line-of-duty firefighter deaths. This research is the next step in the NVFC's efforts to combat preventable heart disease in the fire and emergency services, and we are thrilled that it is receiving funding through FEMA," said Maggie Wilson, Director of Health and Safety at the NVFC. "Thanks to this grant, the NVFC and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health can work together to identify programs and policies that will reduce line-of-duty deaths among firefighters."

Currently there is a lack of information regarding potential barriers and facilitators to wellness and fitness interventions targeting firefighters. This research is needed to fill the gap in knowledge and develop programs and strategies that work. The researchers will first work to understand firefighter's beliefs about health, wellness, and fitness, and then identify the barriers and facilitators of implementing effective wellness programs for firefighters at the national, regional, departmental, and individual levels. Once the barriers and facilitators are identified, a pilot program will be developed. Since the information to create the program will be taken from firefighters, it should have a considerable impact on firefighters.

"We are very excited to partner with the NVFC to conduct this research. This project will have a positive and lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of our nation's first responders," said Dr. Keshia Pollack, Principal Investigator for the project and Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at JHSPH. The research team also includes Dr. Shannon Frattaroli, Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, and Dr. David Holtgrave.

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