Provide health and wellness training and education to first responders
Wear and Tear
Our Guardians experience high levels of mental and physiological deterioration as a result of time in service (natural aging), chronic stress, and acute occupational injuries. Additionally, Guardians face challenging physical and mental job performance requirements, including: standing, moving, and/or sitting for extended periods of time while wearing heavy and uncomfortable equipment, climbing, diving, running, and jumping; these activities are often performed in austere and extreme environments (e.g. low visibility, smoke, extreme temperatures, etc.). These circumstances are the nature of Guardian work, presenting not only healthy concerns for individuals, but also fiscal burdens for departments who pay disability and line of duty injury.
Nearly all Guardians perform shiftwork, an employment practice designed to provide services 24/7, 365 days of the year. Most notably, shiftwork induces irregular sleep cycles and sleep deprivation. There are over 2 million first responders in the United States, including 1.16 million firefighters, 900,000 law enforcement officers and 248,000 emergency medical technicians, who are at risk of sleep deprivation and impaired alertness due to rotating shift work schedules.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an analysis on the prevalence and consequences of shift work: the immediate effects of shift work – irritability, nervousness, depression, anxiety, and attention deficiencies – jeopardize performance, safety and productivity, ultimately correlating to a higher rate of work-related accidents; long term effects of shift work, although difficult to quantify, include higher instances of myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), ischemic strokes, obesity, prostate and colorectal cancer, and type II diabetes. Moreover, shift work disrupts social and family life; most shift workers agree that although they admit to having sleep problems, they would rather lose sleep to spend more time with their spouse and/or children.
Physiological and psychological stress coupled with sleep deprivation often perpetuates into a viscous cycle of unhealthy eating habits. On top of this, first responder and military communities are microcosms of society; they are not barred from the disturbing health trends America is witnessing today. America ranks 1st in the world for highest daily sugar consumption, averaging 126g of sugar per person.
More than one-third (35.7%) of adults are obese, and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children between the age of 2-19 are obese. These statistics alone represent only one concerning measure of health, and not the myriad conditions and complications that are correlated with obesity: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental health issues.