|WELLNESS FITNESS PROGRAM|
The Wellness Fitness Unit is proud of LACOFD’s role as one of the nation's ten founding fire departments in the landmark International Association Fire Fighters and International Association of Fire Chief's (IAFF/IAFC) Wellness Fitness Initiative. The goal of this joint labor- management agreement is to improve the health, safety and longevity of uniformed personnel by implementing a comprehensive, individualized, non-punitive wellness program.
The Wellness Fitness Unit has been at the forefront in demonstrating the Department’s commitment to these goals by implementing a multi-faceted program. Annual medical screening since March, 2000 has discovered numerous unsuspected medical conditions that have been successfully treated before they have progressed to a more harmful or lethal stage. Screening for coronary heart disease, the leading cause of on-duty fatalities among firefighters, is the most compelling example of this. Twenty four cases of mild, moderate or significant coronary heart disease have been found since November 2003. A unique and dynamic cardiology consultation and follow-up program has been established with St. John’s Cardiovascular Research Center in Santa Monica, which will quickly and accurately diagnose any suspected heart problem. Service is typically provided the same day, minimizing anxiety and expense. In all of these 24 cases, the employee has been treated and has returned to work. Expedient, accurate evaluation, and treatment of these cases has likely prevented catastrophic cardiac events and avoided an estimated $200,000 to $400,000 cost of medical expenses and compensation.
The Wellness Fitness Unit works to create a working environment that is conducive to achieving and maintaining the high levels of fitness and health required of firefighters. Exercise equipment and instructional materials have been provided for all work sites and on-duty exercise time is scheduled.
One of the most important components of the Wellness Fitness Program has been the development of and successful implementation of the Peer Fitness Trainer Certification Program. As a result, over 50 LACoFD and 1,500 other firefighters nationwide have become certified peer fitness trainers. These trainers are able to provide safe and effective exercise instruction and information, with emphasis on achieving firefighter-specific goals.
Realizing the importance of emphasizing a healthy lifestyle at the very earliest, the Wellness Fitness Program has introduced physical fitness training and wellness education during firefighter recruit classes. Daily physical fitness training, benchmark fitness tests and lectures on fitness, nutrition, and heat illness prevention are all included in training curriculum.
The Wellness Fitness staff continue to serve as faculty members and technical experts for the IAFF/IAFC Wellness Fitness Initiative. These nationally recognized contributions exemplify the Department's reputation as a pioneer and leader in the fire service.