My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Captain Niles and the members of the Downs Fire Department.
Cardiac-related injuries and fatalities continue to plague the American fire service. According to the United States Fire Administration's latest report on firefighter fatalities in the United States, we lost 39 firefighters to heart attacks in 2009.
That was 43 percent of the 90 line-of-duty deaths that year!
Despite spending several years as an advanced life support provider, the recent loss of my step-father to cardiac-related illness gave me a better understanding about how the choices we make affect the overall health of our cardiovascular system.
Eating right and working out are key, but not always enough.
Especially for firefighters (career and volunteer), it's critically important to receive regular cardiac screening provided by a physician who recognizes the demands of our work environment.
About the author
With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.
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