Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

The Fire Service Has a Hidden Concussion Crisis

10/27/2017  –  Mat Blakenship

Cancer… PTSD…Dehydration…Lack of Physical Fitness…Vehicle Accidents. All of these safety concerns have been recognized as very real occupational hazards in the fire service. Great strides have been made to correct deficiencies in these areas in the past few years.  A true culture change in regards to safety has taken place in a relatively short period of time. But what if there was another danger that we have ignored for too long? What if that hazard has been the number one issue for athletes for over a decade? What if the fire service has ignored the concussion crisis? After all, thousands of firefighter head injuries are reported every year.

Concussions were never on my radar as something that could affect my career or my long term health. I grew up in a firehouse. My father recently retired as a 30 year veteran and he volunteered for many years before that. My story was similar. I began my firefighting career volunteering in 1999 and I was hired by Henrico County (VA) Division of Fire in January of 2003. Through all these years, never once did I hear any firehouse conversations regarding concussions on the fireground…much less during any formal training.

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