Health and Wellness

Everyday EMS Athlete Profile: Jason Arney-O'Neil

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 founder of Jason Arney-O’Neil.

Q: What is your EMS job?

Paramedic/Firefighter for Woodbury Public Safety in Woodbury, MN.  Other duties include: EMS educator, fitness
coordinator, photographer, videographer, and graphic designer.

Q: What are your athletic pursuits and goals?

My goal is to be walking when I’m in my 90’s.  Along the way I will say yes to every challenge that arrives at my doorstep (or my inbox).
Finishing swim leg of a tri

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

I started my career in EMS six years ago, before this I never had such an appreciation for life.  I’m so greatful for the lessons learned from the people I meet at my job.  I’ve heard alot of stories filled with regret in people lives to know that you need to live everyday to the fullest.  I want to try everything, even if I fail, I want to try.
Some races that I’ve done: Trinona (biggest little race in the midwest 3 years in a row), Twin Cities Marathon, Frozen Otter Ultra (64 mile race in WI during February), GrizzlyMan Adventure race (Missoula, MO), Go Commando, Warrior Dash, and other misc 5k fun runs.
Triona Finisher

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

I like lists, so here’s a quick list:
  • Make bets.  Here’s a good daily/weekly bet you can make with your partner(s): Wear a pedometer, and whoever has the most steps after your set period of time wins a prize (maybe lunch).
  • Advertise your goals.  People will ask you how your progress is going, you’ll avoid telling them you quit your goal.
  • Bring your friends.  It’s alot easier to stick to a goal if someone else shares the same goal.
  • Find fitness at work.  Stay on your feet as much as possible, and carry something in your hands so it looks like you’re going somewhere important.
  • Eat Healthy.  Motivation needs energy, eating healthy should be second nature and will give you lots of energy.  Not already eating healthy? try a paleo diet (eat like your cave-dwelling ancestors).
  • Take a break.  Get your sleep, and don’t sweat the small stuff.  Your fitness goals depend on your rest
    Fun run



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

None at this time.  But I am looking for sponsors.

Log cleans

Q: How can readers connect with you or learn more about what you are doing?

I set up a ‘FIT for duty’ program at my department,!/pages/FIT-for-duty/196714327080867
I also make videos to help motivate people to workout, they’re like Rocky montage videos for EMS.  View those videos at
Finally, I’m also starting an everyman’s workout called Man-FIT (human-fitness). Those videos will also be posted on my YouTube channel.


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.