Firefighters falling victim to silent killer - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

03.22.07

Firefighters falling victim to silent killer

   Keeping us safe from harm is a firefighter's main goal everyday, but you may be surprised to find out they often fall victim to a silent killer themselves.
     Newschannel10's Tina Berasley has new information on yet another danger firefighters face.
The New England Journal of Medicine now says heart disease is the most frequent cause of death among firefighters on duty, and today we spoke with one who says he could have easily been one of those victims.

 "I was at a friends house and it just felt like a silver dollar pain right here in my chest and in my right arm we were always taught it would be more than likely in my left arm but it was in my right".
     Firefighter Wayne Pitt is a 20 year veteran who says his chest pain was brought on by several different factors, one of which is his job.
     And Pitt is not alone. A nationwide study of firefighters showed that 45% of on-duty deaths are attributed to heart disease.


Captain Bob Johnson said "Medical calls and car wrecks and injuries and deaths in fires and 
     And if all those factors weren't stressful enough consider this. Amarillo firefighters have to carry an additional 50 pounds of gear including their hat, jacket, boots and airpack.
     The Amarillo firefighters are encouraged to try and eat healthy and exercise. Fitness equipment at the fire stations have progressed from strictly free-weights to include heart healthy cardio machines.


Pitt added "There's physical stress and mental stress and that goes on at the same time...just the way the fire service has changed in my career there seems to be more stress". 
Johnson said "Most of the guys on this job including myself do this because that's what we wanted to do. You stay in it because you like helping people, and it becomes your career and there's probably bad things that can come from any career."

The Amarillo Fire Department does not keep records of firefighter's medical conditions but estimates their firefighters won't be immune to the trend in the future.

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