Injury Mitigation

Each department, agency, or entity is going to be at a different stage regarding wellness program development. The utilization of these Four (4) Steps toward Wellness Program Development can assist your personnel in implementing different approaches in injury mitigation.

4 Step Approach to Program Development

The integration of appropriate Program Development Resources will assist the sustainability and efficiency of any first responder wellness program.

Assessment

A department should conduct a “Needs Analysis” of its wellness program, which could include conducting a job-task analysis: Evaluation of movement, injury/illness history, and energy systems utilized on-duty.

Other factors may include:

call/mission load & typecall/mission duration

available equipment and resources

internal personnel education

Departments can collaborate with universities in order to facilitate assessments and allow for special matters experts to assist in addressing fitness and nutritional needs of personnel. Research initiatives within these universities regarding first responder resiliency, can facilitate the utilization of these resources, by local departments and agencies, to develop additional efforts toward injury mitigation.

Education

In order to maximize development and success, the core of any program must revolve around educating personnel on appropriate physical fitness training practices, modification and regulation, and job-task applications. Utilizing exercise science professionals, which have a sound understanding of occupational tasks and demands, to facilitate continued education settings can assist any wellness program initiative. These special matters experts can organize and or instruct fitness and wellness clinics to educate tactical personnel on subjects of health and human performance, such as nutrition, exercise physiology or physical fitness testing and assessments, and training methodology based on job specificity.

Integration

We divide the integration of professionals into two separate categories:

1) Placing tactical personnel through courses that will qualify them to be internal fitness professionals, and

2) hiring an external company or “vendor” to coordinate programs (or both)

Qualified professionals may utilize assessments driven from university collaboration, or field tests performed by appropriate internal personnel, to construct corrective exercise and tactical strength and conditioning programs. The assessments can then be used to combat the negative effects that the occupational demands have on the human body.

Empowerment

While program development are centered on relationship development with SME’s, community partners, and university partnerships, the maintenance of a program can provide unique challenges.  Programs, once implemented need consistent positive reinforcement from command staff and management, continued equipment updating, and provision of quality educational environments, such as clinics/workshops. The same resources cultivated during program development, can now be utilized to maintain a robust personnel centered program.  General obstacles tend to center around funding.  Grant applications, community supporters, and university involvement may be solutions to these obstacles.