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 Fire Chief and Paramedic Tracy Chawgo.
Q: What is your EMS job?
Fire Chief and Paramedic.
Q: What are your athletic pursuits and goals?
To keep myself in shape.
Q: Do you have a race or accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
I began working out in February of 2011 after my work physical. I was embarrassed to weigh in at almost 250 lbs. My cholesterol was out of control, my sugar levels were becoming an issue, I had acid reflex and could barely walk up a flight of stairs with out becoming winded. The next day I was in the gym with our department medical director who helped me establish an exercise/diet plan and got me on my way to being “”Fire Chief fit”” as he called it.
I began to run and quickly realized how that helped the day to day stress of being the Chief of a combination fire department and going through divorce after 26 years of marriage.
After a few weeks i set a goal to do a 5K run. I chose to run the Jingle-Bell run in Syracuse in November in support of arthritis…. that didn’t seem to difficult. My next goal was to complete a 1/2 marathon. In April I completed the Binghamton, NY Bridge Run in 2 hours and 10 minutes, I haven’t looked back.
Currently I take no meds, have no health issues, and can not only walk up a flight of stairs with out breathing hard, but can run up 10 flights with out even breaking a bead of sweat. My Dr. says I’m her success story and to look at my health records now compared to two years ago wouldn’t believe I was the same Tracy Chawgo.
I run every day. Some times in the morning, some times in the evening. I continue to race in 5k, 10K, 1/2 Marathons, and obstacle course challenges. (I highly recommend the Hero Rush. It is all fire service obstacles).
Q: What are your tips for other EMS professionals to balance work and fitness?
PUT THE DORITOS DOWN AND GET OFF THE COUCH!
I have attended many meetings, classes and conferences around the country and have come to realize that the american firefighter is over weight and out of shape. At the NYS Fire Chiefs show and FDIC I found my self sitting back in the hallways watching the “firefighters” walk buy and I have to say… wow.. no wonder we are dropping of heart attacks every day. I again find myself asking if we are really ready to do the job we tell our families and communities we do, it doesn’t matter if your paid or volunteer. .. Its time to take a look in the mirror and do a self assessment of our selves. Are we living up to the stickers on our cars and helmets and the t-shirts we wear every day calling our selves “hero’s”? Or are we still pretending to be that super hero on TV we wanted to be when we were kids?
Ladies and Gentlemen… as we all know, this is a dangerous job, why make it that much more dangerous by not being physically and mentally not prepared to do the job when the bell goes off? How can we take care of others when we don’t even take care of ourselves?
So put down the Doritos and get off the couch! Go for a walk with your family, or your dog…or both, take the laundry off the treadmill and oil the chain on that bike in the back of the garage. Just get your body in motion, you will be surprised how much better you feel. We don’t all need to be the muscle bound calender guys and girls. We just need to be able to climb that flight of stairs!
If I can do it anyone can do it!
Q: Do you have any final thoughts to share with readers?
Please… All of you.. BE SAFE, BE SMART, BE HEALTHY and go home to your families at the end of the day.