IAFC launches campaign ‘If You Don’t Feel Well, Don’t Make It Your Farewell’

Campaign aims to curb fatal firefighter cardiac arrest incidents

Share your cardiac event story to help save others: IAFC President Fire Chief Gary Ludwig's initiative If You Don't Feel Well, Don't Make it Your Farewell endeavors to reduce the number of firefighter cardiac deaths in the fire and emergency service. One component of the campaign calls for hearing directly from those who have experienced cardiac incidents. If you have ever experienced a cardiac incident, please take a moment to complete this survey

By Janelle Foskett

CHANTILLY, Virginia — The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) today launched its campaign, If You Don’t Feel Well, Don’t Make It Your Farewell, focused on curbing the number of cardiac incidents facing fire and emergency personnel.

The campaign name highlights the fatal risks of ignoring signs of a heart attack that can lead to a cardiac arrest.

Fire Chief Gary Ludwig – IAFC president and chairman of the board, and FireRescue1/Fire Chief board member and columnist – launched the initiative with a video illustrating how ignoring the symptoms and signals our bodies send during cardiac incidents too often leads to death.

Ludwig, who serves as fire chief of the Champaign (Illinois) Fire Department, shared that almost half of all firefighter deaths each year are cardiac-related – and many who survived a cardiac incident have reported not feeling well or that something is wrong: “The best way to change the culture of ignoring warning signs that are not always chest tightness and shortness of breath is through education and awareness,” he said. “If you’re a first responder and your body is signaling to you a feeling that you have never experienced before with extreme fatigue and other symptoms, you need to act and those around you need to act. If a firefighter tells you ‘something is wrong’ or ‘I don’t feel right’ or any similar statement, do not tell them to go home or lay down in the bunk hall. Their body is sending them a signal that something could be seriously wrong.”

Additionally, the IAFC has developed the Cardiac Awareness Toolkit to assist fire service leaders in helping educate their departments and begin to change the culture of denial in the profession. The toolkit contains many resources available for download:

  • Sample policies and strategy development tools
  • Research papers
  • Training and media tools

To learn more, visit IAFC.org/dontfeelwell.


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