Associates from occupational health, physical therapy, sports medicine and wellness recently accepted a unique challenge that some described as receiving a dose of their own medicine.
They suited up alongside firefighters from Brownsburg Fire Territory (BFT) and participated in work performance evaluations. These are assessment tools performed every year and after injuries to make sure that firefighters can meet the minimum job requirements.
“Danny Brock, Health and Safety Officer for BFT, got me interested in participating in this training day,” said Valerie Teets, sports medicine. “When I was an athletic trainer for Avon High School’s football team, I helped Danny’s son work through a few injuries. Danny understood how athletic trainers work with athletes, to get them healthy and back to their sport. Fast forward a few years, he reached out about how his firefighters might benefit from a model of services similar to the one athletic trainers provide to athletes.”
The day’s activities included running drills, using a ladder, simulating cutting through a roof with a chainsaw, and dragging a 175-pound mannequin to mimic a fire rescue. They also tested their agility in a “confidence maze” and practiced using the high-powered water hoses and nozzles.
This training day was organized as part of HRH’s agreement to conduct BFT’s Fit for Duty Physicals. HRH will also begin performing the tests for Avon, Danville and Mooresville Fire Departments this year, and Plainfield starting in 2022. “This was a really educational experience,” said Brian Hilts, physical therapy. “Better understanding the realities the firefighters’ bodies endure will improve our evaluations and help expedite appropriate treatments.”
“The toughest activity for me was the confidence maze,” said Nicholas Galley, wellness. “We didn’t have to wear an oxygen pack, whereas real firefighters would wear one even in the tightest of spaces. I couldn’t believe they had to complete the maze with one on; it was challenging enough wearing just the protective gear.”
“By taking advantage of the opportunity to walk in their shoes, we gained a better understanding of what movement is required to fully execute their jobs,” said Valerie. “The result is a win for all of us.”
“This opportunity gave our associates unique insights into the many physical and mental demands of being a firefighter,” said HRH President & CEO Kevin Speer. “I’m very proud of the example they set by taking these extra steps to support our first responders.”