Firefighters Participate in New Strength Program to Prevent Injuries

The firefighters work through exercises designed to improve their strength, stamina and mobility

Half of all firefighters' injuries in 2017 were strains, sprains and muscles pains, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

In Addison, firefighters are participating in a new workout regimen meant to  strengthen their bodies and prevent injuries on and off the job.

Two times a week, 18 Addison firefighters go REACT Neuro Rehab after their shift, where Ryan Bachik runs them through exercises meant to boost their strength, stamina and mobility.

The gym, normally reserved for rehabbing patients with brain or spinal injuries, is now part of a new program with one goal: injury prevention for first responders.

"What happens if they get into a building and half the stairs are gone and they have to hurdle up something, or when they get on their rigs weighing 50 to 70 pounds heavier with their gear, and then they get off on a call, they're probably not stepping off on the right way and then their knee caves in," said Bachik about how quickly and injury could occur.

He came up with the idea after he learned about the frequency at which firefighters are injured.

Addison Fire Chief David Jones said he didn't hesitate to join the effort, which is free to his firefighters.

"A lot of times, people in public safety, they spend a lot of time and energy trying to help other people, but they neglect helping themselves sometimes and what Ryan is teaching us to do is focus on ourselves and what we need physically to be able to last for a long time in the career," Jones said.

The training will last a year and is part of a clinical study with the Texas Woman's University kinesiology department.

"We hope to see that they're more physically fit and see if they're more aerobically fit. We want to see if their power has increased, if their flexibility has increased because all these things are very crucial to their job performance," TWU assistant professor Rhett Rigby said.

According to the city of Addison, the Addison Fire Department has been familiar with Bachik and his wife, REACT founder, Kendell Bachik, for the past five years when they called the station looking for used fire hoses to use for training at REACT. 

Kendell was paralyzed in a car accident on Halloween nightly nearly 10 years ago and opened REHAB to continue her recovery and help others.

The tactical strength and conditioning program is designed to identify habits, as well as assess and train individuals to decrease the number of injuries and promote a healthy lifestyle with certified trainers and a wellness team. Twenty-seven Addison firefighters and 11 Addison police officers volunteered to participate in the first round of the program.  

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