I have been honored and privileged to spend 10 years of my life as a Firefighter and Paramedic. The risks and sacrifices were vast, but the reward was oftentimes overwhelming. From the carnage of twisted steel from entangled vehicles on a rainy interstate highway to seeing a patient who experienced a major stroke walk out of the hospital with little to no lasting deficiencies, I never ceased to be amazed at what the human body was capable of overcoming.
And while seeing our patients get healthy again never stops being one of the best feelings in the world, a bleak juxtoposition became apparent to me when looking at the health of the first responders caring for these patients. I began to notice that we had a serious epidemic on our hands. It appeared that more and more first responders were in poor health, and it was getting worse all the time. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that I began to pay more attention to this was because I was right there in the mix: I was 35 pounds overweight, had stage 1 hypertension, lipid panel values that were terrible, and nutrition habits that would make even the best competitive eater shake his finger at me. And to make matters worse, I was only 30 years old! Something had to change and fast, or I was going to find myself riding backwards on a bed in the back of a big box that my law enforcement brethren referred to as “The Bus.” I could hear myself screaming internally “Who’s the patient NOW, buddy?”