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News Release
Dr. Denise Smith
Dr. Denise Smith
Oregon Hosts Two-Day Symposium on Firefighter Safety, Cardio, Cancer, and Behavioral Health (Photo) - 05/13/19

The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) in partnership with the Oregon Fire Chiefs Safety and Health Section is pleased to host the firsty-ever two-day symposium called Surviving the Fire Service at the Oregon Public Safety Academy at 4190 Aumsville Highway SE in Salem featuring six of the nation's leading authors and researchers in the Firefighter Safety, Cardio, Cancer, and Behavioral Health field.  This two-day event is being held on May 13 and 14, 2019.

Presentations include:

Dr. Denise Smith, Skidmore College: Understanding and Preventing Cardiac Events in the Fire Service.

The talk will briefly review fatality statistics and then begin to explore physiological responses to firefighting and pathophysiological changes in individuals with underlying cardiovascular disease. The presenter will link current efforts to improve cardiovascular screening with research findings from scientific studies, including the largest autopsy-based study in the fire service. 

Chief Bryan Frieders, President Firefighter Cancer Support Network: Cancer in the Fire Service

Cancer is increasingly being recognized as one of the key risks firefighters face due to occupational risks. This presentation will highlight the current state of the science on this issue as well as what firefighters and fire departments can do to limit exposures and risks. 

Dr. Gavin Horn, Illinois Fire Service Institute: Chemical Exposure and Cardiovascular Risks in Today’s Fire Service

The risks we face as firefighters are constantly evolving as we respond to fires that progress more rapidly and produce more toxic smoke than ever before. In addition to the hazards from rapid fire progression, building collapse and PPE limitations, there are other insidious threats that we face that may not be as evident while implementation tactics or even developing policies.  Cancer is a primary chronic health concern associated with firefighting.  Sudden cardiac events are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the Fire Service and a primary acute health concern.  In an on-going series of projects between IFSI Research, UL FSRI and NIOSH, we have developed a deeper understanding of the exposure risks associated with firefighting activities. This presentation will review the critical results from those efforts with a focus on the impact of fireground decisions on firefighters operating in different roles.  

Dr. Sara Jahnke, Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research: Risks Beyond the Fire Ground 

This talk will present current research on the occupational risk factors firefighters have to face beyond the fire ground such as fitness, nutrition, sleep challenges, and behavioral health.  The presenter will highlight current trends and discuss best practices in improving firefighter health. 

Capt. Frank Leto, Fire Department City of New York: Behavioral Health in the Fire Service

Capt. Leto will overview current trends and data in the fire service related to behavioral health.  He will discuss emerging research on suicidal ideation as well as practical applications for prevention in the fire service.  Using his vast experience in developing and implementing behavioral health programs nationally, he will provide direction for personnel at any point in the process in developing an effective behavioral health program.

Chief Todd Leduc, Broward County Sheriff’s Department Fire & EMS: Prevention and Early Intervention

It is widely understood the three largest killers of firefighters and also of permanent disability to firefighters are the occupationally linked diseases of cardiovascular, cancer and behavioral health including suicide. Unfortunately, the cycle of continuing loss of members of the fire service to these three diseases is needless and preventable. This presentation will focus on implementing early detection annual medical physicals and screenings including discussing NFPA 1582. Additionally, we’ll focus on emerging science on the detection of cardiovascular, early stage cancer and behavioral health screenings. Actual departmental experiences of success and pitfalls will be discussed.

DPSST's Director Eriks Gabliks said that his organization was pleased to host this important two-day, data driven, symposium as "around the country we continue to lose members of the fire service to occupational health threats that are preventable with early recognition and intervention. These disease processes, forming the three legs of the stool, are cardiovascular health risks, occupational cancer exposures and threats, and behavioral health diseases, including suicide on the extreme end of the spectrum. This two-day seminar will specifically look at these issues and will be presented by fire service professionals actively involved in the field leading the discussions."

Abour the presenters:

FRANK LETO, a 34-year veteran of the FDNY and the Deputy Director of its Counseling Service Unit (CSU). His association with the CSU began over 20 years ago as a Crisis Counselor for incidents such as line of duty deaths and mass casualty events. On September 11th, 2001 he responded to the World Trade Center as an officer in charge of a rescue team. Since 9/11, Captain Leto has developed innovative outreach, counseling and education programs for firefighters and their families who have experienced potentially traumatic events. In addition to his work as Deputy Director of the CSU and its staff of ninety, he has worked closely with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to develop behavioral health protocols and to aid departments nationwide after major incidents. Captain Leto has also traveled internationally to share his experiences with fire departments in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and to Okinawa Japan to aid Military Fire Fighters. He has assisted the London Fire Brigade after the transit bombings in 2005, and the Urban Search and Rescue Teams following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Through his work with the IAFF and NFFF, he has supported numerous departments including those on the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Charleston, SC and Aurora, Colorado after the theater shooting and more recently Boston following the Marathon Bombing.

GAVIN HORN, Director of Illinois Fire Service Institute (ISFI) Research Center. Since August 2004, immediately after receiving his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, Gavin began to research safety and health topics in both career and volunteer fire organizations. Gavin's research interests focus on firefighter health and safety, first responder technology development, material testing and design, and nondestructive evaluation. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and given presentations at meetings, conferences and symposia around the world.

TODD LEDUC, MS, CFO, FIFirE is the executive assistant fire chief and 29 year veteran of Broward County Fire Rescue in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Broward is a career accredited metro department of more than 700 personnel. He is a board member and Secretary of the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section. He publishes frequently and speaks on topics of firefighter safety and culture change. He has facilitated master and strategic plans and department reviews in more than a dozen states and three countries. He is a senior associate for Emergency Services Consulting International. He has a master’s degree in fire service leadership and is a designated chief fire officer and a peer reviewer for agency accreditation and professional credentialing.

DENISE L. SMITH, Ph.D., is a professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore College, where she directs the First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory, and a research scientist at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute. She has coauthored an exercise physiology textbook and an advanced cardiovascular exercise physiology textbook and has contributed to a textbook on live fire training. She has conducted far-reaching research on the cardiovascular strain associated with firefighting and has lectured extensively on health and safety issues in the fire service. She is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a member of the National Fire Protection Association Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health committee.

Sara A. Jahnke, PhD is the Director of the Center for Fire, Rescue and EMS Health Research at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. Dr. Jahnke has served as the Principal Investigator of several large-scale studies of the health and readiness of the U.S. Fire Service funded by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association. Current projects include studies focused on evaluating the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation Stress First Aid program, the health of women in the fire service, research on workplace violence, exposure assessments on the fire ground, and randomized controlled trials of wellness interventions. She serves as a co-investigator of several other studies focused on fitness, nutrition and health behaviors in both firefighters and military populations. Dr. Jahnke regularly serves as a consultant to several fire service organizations including the National Volunteer Fire Council and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. She is an active member of the Safety, Health & Survival Section of IAFC.

 ## Background Information on the DPSST ##

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) operates the Oregon Public Safety Academy which spans more than 235 acres in Salem. The Academy is nationally recognized for its innovative training programs and active stakeholder involvement.  Eriks Gabliks serves as the Director, and Sheriff Jason Myers serves as the Chair of the Board. The department implements minimum standards established by the Board for the training and certification of more than 40,000 city, tribal, county and state law enforcement officers, corrections officers, parole and probation officers, OLCC regulatory specialists, fire service personnel, telecommunicators, emergency medical dispatchers and private security providers.

DPSST provides training to more than 25,000 students each year throughout Oregon and at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem: certifies qualified officers at various levels from basic through executive; certifies qualified instructors; and reviews and accredits training programs throughout the state based on standards established by the Board.


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