Feasibility of a Train-the-Trainer Delivered Exercise Intervention in Firefighters
Firefighters provide critical services to our communities. However, due to the dangerous and strenuous nature of their jobs, they experience one of the highest rates of occupational injuries. Sudden cardiac death accounts for the largest proportion (~45%) of all on-duty deaths, while slips, trips, and falls, and overexertion are the most common cause of injury resulting in strains and sprains (>50%). Exercise programs designed to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and neuromuscular function are an evidenced-based approach to reducing the risk of these fatal and non-fatal injuries.
A “call to action” by the Department of Homeland Security has encouraged the use of a ‘train-the-trainer’ model where fitness professionals partner with firefighter staff to help implement effective exercise programs that reduce the likelihood of exercise-induced injury. The goal of this project is to determine the feasibility of a train-the-trainer delivered exercise routine (including a neuromuscular warm-up and high-intensity interval training) in career firefighters.
Funding for this project was provided by the CDC (#R03OH011929). This project was approved by the UNC Institutional Review Board (#21-2522).
Who’s eligible? Any firefighter between the age of 18 – 60 who is cleared for fire suppression duties.
What would you do?
- Testing: we will measure your health and fitness prior to and following the exercise training. The fitness tests will include measures of body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and endurance, and balance. All testing will be completed at UNC- Chapel Hill. Each testing session will take about 1 hour to complete.
- Training: 6 weeks of exercise training that includes a neuromuscular warm-up and cycle based high-intensity interval training. We will ask you to complete 2 exercise sessions per week at your fire station that will last ≤ 30 minutes. We will provide all exercise equipment.
- Training: all peer-trainers will be provided educational and training materials and undergo professional training to implement and lead the exercise training. Our team will work closely with each peer-trainer.
- Peer-Trainer Trainer Materials: coming soon
Any compensation? Each firefighter and peer-trainer are eligible for up to $100 in compensation. In addition, we will provide the participant with their body composition assessment results and 6 weeks of training prescribed by UNC Chapel Hill fitness professionals.
What will we do with your information? All individual data collected from you will be confidential and will not be shared with your department or anyone outside our research team.
Study Team Members:
- Eric Ryan, PhD – Study PI
- Nick Buoncristiani, MS
- Gena Gerstner, PhD, MPH
- Laura Linnan, ScD
- Darin Padua, PhD
- Johna Register-Mihalik, PhD
- Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD
Thank you! – We sincerely thank the local fire departments for their support of this project. We also thank the select firefighters and fire service members for their participation and leadership of this program.