09/01/10 201 W - + 6 - 5 Too Fat to Fight

Saw this this week from the New York Times, which was writing about the Army's new physical training program. They've spent nearly a decade making the thing, which was rolled out to five posts that handle 145,000 recruits per year. The official goal of the program is to reduce injuries, and better prepare soldiers for combat in rough terrain, such as Afghanistan. It's also an attempt to address a big honkin' problem facing today's military: overweight and unfit recruits.

Reported a report titled "Too Fat to Fight," the proportion of potential recruits who failed their physicals each year rose nearly 70 percent between 1995 and 2008. They cite the cause as a "legacy of junk food and video games, compounded by a reduction in gym classes in many high schools," writes the Times. The article talks about the new fitness routines, which are intended to reduce injuries such as stress fractures, and more accurately reflect the physical activities they'll actually perform in combat. Wow, what a concept.

Read the article, and discuss as desired.

In particular, how's the fat factor affecting fire service recruiting? What modifications or revisions have you seen to fire department physical training problems?

I have a relative that was discharged from the service after they tried repeatedly to get him to loose weight. They even had a sepcific program that he had to go to in order to try. Today, he is 315+ pounds.

I have also heard that the US Army is going towards a more overall fitness program, even having Tony Horton of P90X fame help out in order to correct these issues.

So here in the emergency service field. I dont think we have the issue when it comes to recruiting, I think we have the issue with the members we retain. This is NOT pointed to one specific area, (so those with hurt feelings, get over it) but there is an increase in over weight and heavier members of both fire and ems, both paid and volunteer, in this area. Causes? As mentioned in this post – junk food, video games, sedintary life styles…from young to adults. Also, take a poor EMS crew running their 15th call of the day, with no break…. Five Guys or Cookout may be the only option, IF they get to eat.
We also need to look at our examples though too. You cannot expect your compaines, or your staff to be fit and work out if YOU as a supervisor, or as the strong influence in your group, are not in shape or not at least making an effort to be in shape as well.

That said the cooler weather is coming, lets all get out and do more to be physically fit….we all could stand to loose 5-15 lbs.

And yes…I am overweight, just like the rest.
my 2 cents on fat - 09/01/10 - 09:41

FD physical training problems?...I dont see any problem at all…. I think anyone has to do is look at some of the pics you post and it shows just how big some of the people in the fire service are…especially people in higher rank/position which sets a VERY poor example for future recruits..
surprised - 09/01/10 - 15:49

From what I have seen, in the Military fitness standards are not enforced the same the further up in rank you go. I have seen countless Sr. Enlisted and Officer ranks who did not meet any fitness standard nor were they required to participate in the required annual fitness tests and screenings.

The fire service should have the same annually fitness testing. We are required to pass a PAT to get hired, we should have to maintain that standard during our career, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR RANK/LENGTH OF SERVICE.

What is the leading cause of death in the fire service?? We can prevent a lot of heart attacks by promoting a healthier lifestyle and more cardiovascular exercise in the fire service. This isn’t something that should be done, its something that NEEDS to be done.
Standards - 09/01/10 - 17:49

I agree with all the comments above. Being proactive about this starts at the top, both the chiefs, but more so at the company officer level. The only way to be a true leader is to get out there and lead, not sit in the radio room and watch as your guys workout and you eat bon bons. There will be days where even your health nut is not motivated to workout, but that is when you as the officer needs to be out there working out and if need be tell them they have to walk the parking lot for 30 mins or however long if need be. Set the standard as the officer and hold yourself and your crew to it.

Like it has been said we all know of those Capt’s that you NEVER see with an air pack on or they wear it for show and stand in the yard. The EMS folks that look like they themselves need assistance getting into the back of their own pus bus or that they need a 12 lead.

Lead by example. First in last out doesn’t only apply to the fire building
Mike - 09/01/10 - 18:25

Reference to “Standards:”

What branch of the military were you seeing? Were they active duty, reserve, or guard? If ground forces, were they from combat arms units or support units. As a veteran of the Airborne and SF community, I can say there are no fitness issues there regardless of rank right up to a 3-star. During OEF, as all the reserve and guard components were being activated in the army, they were where you saw the out-of-shape soldiers. As with many other aspects in addition to fitness, 1 weekend a month, 2 weeks a year doesn’t cut it. Now that they know they might actually have to do their jobs, the reserve components have a much better readiness level. This was not the case soon after 9-11. Totally agree that an annual fitness test for record is necessary, but also periodic tests throughout the year. In the army, you are expected to be able to pass the AFPT at any time. Continuing to comment of the NY times article, the (army) recruitment stations could work harder at initiating fitness programs, especially to recruits who enlist under the delayed entry program. I can’t really speak to other service branches since I didn’t serve in them, but a friend’s comment to me about what his PT was like in the Navy: “What PT?” Maybe things are different now. About leadership, lead by example and lead from the front. I always made sure I could out PT my soldiers, which was not easy when I was 8 to 10 years older than they (hooray for ibuprofen!) but I felt it was my duty to be THE example. I wanted them to see the “old dude” could do it. The ability to do it better was a motivator, and a reason to chew them out for letting me beat them. Ahhh, the memories… :)
bob - 09/02/10 - 10:23

Been there, done that, got the new scar to prove it.

Truth – it’s too easy to take care of yourself to not do it. “Push backs” from the table do work, you just need to be motivated (I’m now motivated for the first time in 35 years, but better late than never).

I saw video the other day of the Commandant of the Marine Corps leading Headquarters Company on a run – sure seemed like he, the colonel, and the Sergeant Major were in pretty good shape.

It’s a vicious cycle – how do you get an obese, out-of-shape chief to think about imposing standards that, as of today, he can’t meet? (HINT – send him to the cardiac surgery unit at WakeMed and see how much fun it is to get the problems fixed!)

37 down – 23 to go!
CH100 - 09/02/10 - 21:18

PS – Wake County EMS Division has implemented a pre-hire physical abilities test that is quite demanding. The test, called MED-PAT, was developed by MEDIC in Charlotte with some physiologists, etc. All job related, but tests aerobic, upper body, grip, and leg/back strength all in six fun-filled minutes.
CH100 - 09/02/10 - 21:19

Careful Chief, you might inspire change in some of us, um, equatorially-challenged folks. Glad you’re getting healthier.
Legeros - 09/03/10 - 07:47

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