It has been said that the cancer beast fears scientists because they are working to defeat the beast. Now it can be said it fears firefighters who band together at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) to work with the scientists. Firefighters are a tough and compassionate bunch who are often called to a problem and use their training and best practices to solve the problem. They are masters at it and are now taking aim at the cancer problem in the fire service.
FDIC International is an annual conference and exhibition held in Indianapolis, Indiana that educates and trains the fire service. More than 30,000 firefighters from all parts of the world attend for comprehensive training on firefighting and emergency medical services. It is the world’s largest fire conference and exhibition.
Within the fire service too many firefighters are being diagnosed and/or dying from cancer. Scientists have published many research studies including a recent comprehensive NIOSH study published in 2016 which lists risk factors and conclusions backed up with data.
To solve this growing problem, firefighters, fire organizations, government, universities, hospitals, non-profits and private companies have stepped up to advocate for cancer prevention, detection and treatment. They are doing necessary work and seek forums to collaborate, communicate and spread the word because much more needs to be done.
This is where FDIC with its parent company (Clarion UX) shine as they have the perfect venue to bring together all of the above. They are well aware of the cancer problem and welcome training courses and exhibitors with products that may help. Their website fdic.com provides information about the exhibitors and training courses offered. Short instructor videos and/or descriptions of conference sessions are offered as a planning tool to select areas of interest, including firefighter health.
Listed below are a few examples of the sessions dealing with cancer presented at the recent April 2019 FDIC International.
- Taking Action Against Cancer In The Fire Service: Train The Trainer. By Lieutenant Russell Osgood, Portsmouth (NH) Fire Department; Firefighter Cancer Support Network. This workshop pointed out the increased risk of cancer and noted actions to reduce cancer exposure. It also gave information about available resources from the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN). FCSN focuses on firefighter health by providing cancer awareness and prevention programs nationwide.
- Two excellent FCSN advocates (Gretchen Hale, Indiana State Director and Chuck Wehrli, District Representative from Illinois) were available during FDIC to answer questions and provide materials.
- Cancer Prevention Beyond The Fireground: Fitness, Nutrition, Substance Use, and Sleep. By Dr. Sara Jahnke, Director of the Center for Fire, Rescue, and EMS Health Research, National Development & Research Institute.
- Preventing Cancer In The Fire Service. By Health and Safety Captain John Gulotta, Tucson (AZ) Fire Department and Jeffery L. Burgess, MD Associate Dean for Research and Professor, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona.
- The Doctor’s View of Firefighters and Cancer. By Medical Officer Thomas Hales, Denver, Colorado.
View course content at fdic.com.
The people behind the cancer sessions at FDIC have stepped up and ask firefighters to take advantage of their programs, spread the word, and participate in research.
Another organization asking for participation in research is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They have a program called All Of Us whose mission is to accelerate research leading to quicker breakthroughs by collecting blood and urine samples from one million volunteers along with their medical history. All of the information will be stored in massive data bases made available to researchers worldwide. They opened up the program to volunteers to participate in May 2018. They encourage all of you to become one in a million, which is the All of Us goal.
The following set of core values comes from their website https://allofus.nih.gov
•Participation is open to all.
•Participants reflect the rich diversity of the U.S.
•Participants are partners.
•Trust will be earned through transparency.
•Participants have access to their information.
•Data will be accessed broadly for research purposes.
•Security and privacy will be of highest importance.
•The program will be acatalyst for positive change in research
Positive changes in research will lead to new treatments for cancer patients within the fire service and the communities they serve. There is no time to lose.
It is important for firefighters and others to help accelerate cancer research by participating but its equally or more important they reach out to their communities and spread the word.
The next FDIC International Conference is April 20-25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. See you there!