Health and Wellness

Everyday EMS Athlete Profile: Conan Kelly

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.

Conan Kelly running for Team Firefighter
Conan Kelly running for Team Firefighter

QWhat 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.

Q: What are your athletic pursuits and goals?
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.

Q: Do you have race, lifestyle changes, or other accomplishments you are particularly proud of? If yes, please share and describe.
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!

Q: Can you share a few tips to help other EMS professionals to set and accomplish fitness goals?
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.

Q: Is there an organization that supports your training and racing efforts?

Conan Kelly running for Team Firefighter
Conan Kelly after finishing a race for Team Firefighter

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.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.