For those of you in Emergency Services, if you don't know what I'm referring to in the title of this post, take a few minutes to read this blog and you'll understand. If you aren’t directly related to Emergency services, but have a loved one that is a Police Officer, Firefighter, EMT etc, you may also wish to take a few minutes to read this.
Dominick Buscio was a fire captain for the Jersey City Fire Department in addition to being a family man. At 39 years of age, he died of a heart attack while on a ski vacation. His previous physical, completed less than two years prior, showed nothing except for higher cholesterol levels.
For years I have heard about this program and always told myself that I should go. If for no other reason, than for peace of mind. As I got a few more firehouse meals under my belt (well stretching my belt), it became clear that I needed to start taking better care of myself. I have a wife and two young children at home that rely on the fact that I will be coming home at the end of my shift.
In order to truly understand firefighting, you really have to do it. For those of you that have not ever done it, trying to imagine the physiological stresses that your body endures will be difficult at best. The physical exertion caused by the increased weight due to your turnout gear, SCBA, tools that you are carrying as well as the respiratory effort put out by doing a very physical job with little to no warm up period, is taxing on the body. This leads to the high statistics of cardiac related events on the fireground and heart attacks. In the National Fire Protection Association’s “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States-2015” report, Stress/Overexertion/Medical accounted for 59% of the deaths that year.
Take a moment for that to sink in.
59% nearly 6 out of 10 Firefighters died due to stress/exertion/medical reasons.
Some deaths are unavoidable, a sudden aneurysm for example, but what if there was a way to screen for the major issues associated with these deaths?
As you likely guessed from the topic of this blog, there is.
Let me tell you about my time at the Buscio Program.
I called to schedule an appointment in late April and was able to be seen in June. This delay is uncommon but I picked the busier time of the year. As instructed, no food after midnight as your blood will be collected for lab analysis. My appointment time was 0730 in their Newark office, which is located in the Airport. I arrived early like I try to do for everything, and was the 7th person in line. While my first thoughts were, Oh lord this is going to be a long day, the opposite ended up being true. The efficiency of their process is amazing.
Some of the tests that were done included a urinalysis and full blood panel. From there, you are allowed to eat and you are provided with nutragrain bars, coffee and tea are also available on site. Next came a chest X-ray, EKG, vitals, and a quick medical exam. There was a treadmill based stress test, Doppler screening of the vascular system to indicate blood pressure in your extremities as well as an ultrasound of the heart. It ended up being a total of eight (8) diagnostic tests and I was out the door by 11 am. Considering how many appointments with specialists it would have taken in order to get those same tests done, the efficiency is astounding.
When you finish your testing, you schedule an appointment to meet with the doctor to discuss your results. My appointment was in early August. My drive to the office took longer than my appointment. I arrived early again, was seen early, had all of my lab results explained to me in terminology that I could understand (huge when you are speaking medical-ese), and was advised on what I should be doing to keep myself healthy. Copies of all results are given to you to follow up with your primary care provider as well.
In conclusion, it was a great experience that only took a few hours out of my life in an effort to prolong my life and make me healthier so I can achieve my goal of coming home at the end of every tour. If you are in Emergency Services, I can’t recommend your attendance at this program enough. There is a link to their website below. If you are not in Emergency Services, but have a loved one who is, convince them to go. There is NO out of pocket expense for all of this testing.
See http://www.captainsgift.com/ for more information
Until next time, train hard, stay safe. Everyone Goes Home.