Health and Wellness

Everyday EMS Athlete Profile: Rachel Zambrano

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 Firefighter/Paramedic Rachel Zambrano.

Q: What is your EMS job?

My EMS job is as a fire department lieutenant/paramedic.  Roughly 80% of our calls are medical, so we stay busy! We’re first responders, and in our system, no minor medical goes unnoticed.   But we also have several major highways, a small airport and a popular summer destination, so we run a fair share of serious calls.

Rachel Z Running
Rachel running a marathon in full turn out gear

Q: What are your athletic pursuits and goals?

My athletic pursuits and goals kind of depend on where my feet take me!  I do want to keep improving- and get in a sub 20 minute 5k this year.  January saw my first ultramarathon, and I’m considering others.  I’ve just completed my third Half Ironman on April 1st, and my first Ironman is in May.  After that, I’m going to try and focus on qualifying for the Boston marathon in the winter of 2012-2013.

Q: Do you have race, lifestyle changes, or other accomplishments you are particularly proud of?

The biggest thing I’m proud of is that I can set a good example for my kids -on how to be healthy and how to be tough.  But I’m also finding that my goals have shifted.  I still run for what it can do for me, but the best part of the race is what my friends accomplish.  The recent Half Ironman was really great because I saw several people smash their previous year’s time, or accomplish their first.  It’s incredibly inspiring to see that, and seeing others achieve their goals reminds me why I started running.  So, I’m also proud of the people around me and their success in fitness.

Q: What are your tips to help other EMS professionals to set and accomplish fitness goals? 

I found a way to get my training on at work-or around it. There’s almost always a way, and it’s a good way to release stress. It can be tough, but it’s worth it. With the increase in attention on heart attacks and strokes among emergency responders, it’s becoming even more crucial to be fit. It isn’t just about us… It’s about our families, at home and on the job.

Q: Are there organizations and sponsors that support your training and racing efforts? 

One of my sponsors is Infinit Nutrition.  They are a company that specializes in nutrition for endurance athletes.  After the fires in Texas last year, I now carry some of it on the engine with me in addition to racing/training with it.  If you order from them and use the code “firegirl” the IAFF burn fund gets a donation equal to ten percent of your order.

I’m also sponsored by Rudy Project , Duro Tires , and Flexr Sports .  All of the companies make great products, so their support really makes training and racing much easier. They make it possible for me to focus on what really matters.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

I run a blog with fitness tips/race and gear reviews, how-to’s and other useful information for athletes at

My facebook page is and you can find me on twitter as ironultrared.

All Everyday EMS Athletes featured in this column receive an e-gift card from Road ID. Check out the Road ID information for First Responders. View past columns and submit your profile at the Everyday EMS Athlete page

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.