EMS professionals are challenged to balance work, family, and other obligations while also staying or striving for mental and physical fitness. The Everyday EMS Athlete is a regular column to recognize and learn from other EMS professionals that are setting and meeting fitness goals. This edition was contributed by Paramedic/Firefighter and Team Firefighter member Conan Kelly.
Q: What is your EMS job?
I work as a Paramedic Firefighter for the City of San Rafael. We work a 48 hour shift on a transporting ambulance to local hospital ED’s. Every couple of weeks I rotate onto a paramedic fire engine to fill the role of initial patient contact and stabilization. Aside from responding to EMS emergencies, I am also responsible for EMS supplies for the majority of the department.
Originally, my athletic goals revolved around staying in shape. Any time I noticed I was beginning to bulge a bit at the waist, or feel winded doing minor activities, I would step up my workouts. Slowly I would drift back into sea of laziness, it being easier to read the paper in the morning than working out. It wasn’t until I began signing up for races, both running and triathlons, that I maintained a consistent workout schedule and became very conscious of my eating habits. It was with achievable, concrete and measurable goals, like a goal marathon time, that I was able to stay focused and improve.
I consider my AIDS Life Ride my biggest accomplishment. It is a bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness about the huge numbers of HIV/AIDS infections in the US and more locally in California. While the ride was not a “race” and no one was keeping score, it did a number of things for me. One, I was able to raise money for a good cause. As an EMS provider, we care for people affected by this disease and are exposed to it. From a selfish standpoint alone finding a cure or increasing funds for prevention keeps my EMS brothers and sisters safer. Two, I have always been a team player so to set out on the ride solo was a big accomplishment for me. Third, 545 miles in 7 days is a lot of time in the saddle!
As I mentioned before, you must set concrete and measurable goals! Saying “I am going to get into shape” is not measurable. Saying “I am going to drop 5% body fat” is. Write down your goals and put them in a place you will see them everyday or multiple times a day. You need to keep those goals fresh in your mind. Lastly, tell everyone you know what your goals are. It will keep you honest and hopefully recruit a few friends to help push you when times get tough.
I am a member of Team Firefighter. We are a non profit organization dedicated to providing support to firefighters who want to better themselves through fitness in sport. The #1 cause of on the job deaths of firefighters is heart attacks, which can be best prevented by a regular fitness program. By improving the health and fitness of firefighters, we will save the lives of firefighters and those they are there to protect. We are a young organization with big ideas for the future and are always looking for new members! Check out our website and see if our goals fit your needs.