Charlottesville firefighters train to prevent cardiac arrest

Charlottesville firefighters train to prevent cardiac arrest

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Members of the Charlottesville Fire Department (CFD) have to deal with intense circumstances on a daily basis. For that reason, they train every morning to be able to execute when they’re needed the most.

“We train for an hour every single day from 8-9 in the morning. It’s a mixture of cardio and weights,” firefighter Nigel Mason said.

Since firefighters are on call at all hours of the night, they never know when they’ll need to wake up and have an extra bit of strength.

“We get a lot of calls in the middle of the night. So in the middle of the night, when you’re asleep, you’ve got to get up and you’ve got to have that strength and the stamina and the health,” Mason said.

“Our gear weighs 45 pounds, plus another 30 pounds worth of equipment,” CFD Deputy Chief Joe Powers said. “It’s a lot of weight and our firefighters are prepared for it.”

All of those factors can create a lot of stress, which can lead to a major cause of death for firefighters.

“More than 40% of all firefighter deaths on the national level are from cardiovascular disease and cardiac arrest from heart attacks, and that’s what we’re really trying to avoid,” Powers said.

On some days, they have group training aimed at increasing cardiovascular health: “We have a stair tower at the Fontaine Station, and they were carrying equipment up and down the stairs, both getting their heart rate up at the same time as becoming stronger,” Powers said.

In addition to the workouts, firefighters go through an annual physical, a practical physical which includes a dummy drags, and climbing stairs. Firefighters over the age of 40 must have a stress test done every other year.

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