If you are scheduled for, or have just completed the Qliance Health Evaluation© for Fire Fighters, you will notice that it is a very comprehensive evaluation. Each element of the Qliance Health Assessment© for Fire Fighters is important, providing great ways to help yourself stay healthy. Use the menu below to learn more about the categories covered in your Qliance Health Evaluation©:
It is much easier to prevent illness than to treat it. The Qliance Health Evaluation© is designed specifically for you to make sure you are preventing illnesses or catching them in their earliest stages. Qliance strives to avoid unnecessary tests or screenings, instead working with you on your overall health plan and goals to keep you being a healthy you. The following elements of the Qliance Health Evaluation© include:
The physical exam, blood and urine analysis, chest X-ray, and (if applicable) colon, prostate, breast, and cervical cancer screenings are done as part of this evaluation. Because fire fighters have an increased risk of certain cancers, we may choose to screen fire fighters at an earlier age or at an increased frequency than the general population.
We want to make sure you are current on all of your vaccinations to prevent the contraction and spread of potentially dangerous infections. If you do not know which vaccines you have already had or when, we will perform blood testing to check for evidence of immunity. If you know you are due for a particular vaccination, or a blood test result shows lack of immunity, you and your provider will discuss whether you should or should not receive the vaccination in question.
We check to ensure that your vision and hearing are functioning properly. We make sure your neurologic and musculoskeletal exams are normal. We make sure you feel safe at home, at work, and in your relationships.
You are encouraged to always use your seat belt while driving, and that you never operate a vehicle or machinery while under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. We perform screening exams to evaluate your emotional and mental health in order to identify your risk of conditions such as anxiety and depression. We also screen to evaluate if your use of alcohol may put your health at risk.
Due to the nature of your occupation, you are at risk of being exposed to many hazardous materials, particularly heavy metals, which are often emitted in the fumes and smoke present during the overhaul process. We will perform the necessary tests to measure your blood levels for increased exposure to these heavy metals. Prevent unnecessary exposure by always wearing your SCBA during overhaul. Chemicals can enter your body through the mouth, nose, skin, and eyes which can increase your risk for certain cancers and other illnesses.
Some of the most important things you can do to prevent illness and disability are:
It is well documented that the #1 killer of fire fighters is heart disease. Job risks that make heart disease all the more deadly for fire fighters include: sleep deprivation, stress, sudden and or extreme exertion, and toxic exposures on the job. In addition, many fire fighters have been found to have high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and other risk factors that increase the chances of heart disease.
The elements of the Qliance Health Evaluation© that specifically target identifying and preventing heart disease include:
In the line of duty, fire fighters may experience occupational exposure to gases, chemicals, and particles with potentially damaging short and long-term effects on the respiratory system. Given the excessive exposure risk, it is essential that fire fighters recognize the importance of SCBA use from the time of initial attack through the overhaul. There is some evidence of chronic lung disease occurring as a result of longer term, repeated exposures. Acute effects include low oxygen levels in the blood due to smoke inhalation, reduction in lung function, and respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, wheezing).
The elements of the Qliance Health Evaluation© that specifically target the identification of lung disease include:
We understand that your job as a fire fighter is physically intense. This puts you at risk for both acute and chronic injuries to your muscles, tendons, and joints. Research has shown that sprains and strains routinely account for approximately 50% of all line-of-duty injuries, and back injuries account for about 50% of all line-of-duty injury retirements each year. These injuries may result in significant lost time and medical expense, and may put yourself, your coworkers, and the community at risk.
The elements of the evaluation that specifically targeted the identification of musculoskeletal disease include:
Qliance recommendations for the treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal problems:
Occupational stress is inherent to being a fire fighter. Long-term stress, if unmanaged, can have detrimental effects on a fire fighter’s health which can impact the mind, body, mood, and behavior. When mental health isn’t addressed, you can experience mental and physical health problems such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and a compromised immune system. Chronic health issues such as these can lead to job dissatisfaction and subsequent burnout. The Qliance Health Evaluation© helps fire fighters recognize common symptoms of stress, providing them with the tools for healthy stress management. Our aim is to reduce the negative consequences inherent with unmanged work and life stressors.
Being a fire fighting is stressful – and sometimes, traumatic. It is no wonder that firefighting has been identified as one of the most stressful jobs in America. Rotating schedules, lack of sleep, unpredictability and the inherent dangers of being a fire fighter make for an environment which leaves an individual susceptible to high levels of stress.
Suicide is the #2 killer among fire fighters. Fire fighters are at particularly high risk for mental health issues and suicide; but in the fire service, much like the military, these conditions are not discussed or treated very openly. Just mentioning that you are struggling may be thought of as an indication of weakness and carries a stigma. You may feel that fire fighters help others; they don’t need help themselves.
Included in your Qliance Health Evaluation© are questions asking about your mental health as a way of checking in, and asking you to check in with yourself. We know that the culture of the fire service often inhibits a member asking for help, perhaps out of fear of admitting a problem, or suspicion that accessing services will present a potential threat to your job. But as there is greater recognition of the alarming rates of suicide within the service, we are here to provide you with a safe, confidential space to discuss and address the important and sometimes difficult to ask questions. Everything you share with your Qliance provider is confidential and is not shared with your employer, the Trust, or the union. The only time we have to notify anyone is if you are actively suicidal or homicidal, in which case we would notify the public health system to get you immediate help.
Remind yourself that seeking help if you recognize a need is a sign of strength and courage, not a sign of weakness.
Check in with yourself if you notice some of the signs of mental health or mood issues: feelings of helplessness, loss of interest in daily activities, loss of ability to feel joy and pleasure, fatigue or sluggishness, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia or waking in the early hours of the morning, or a feeling of being alone or isolated. Sometimes it can also look like anger or irritability. On or off the fire ground, there might be feelings and signs of increased reckless behavior, sometimes involving alcohol or other substances.
If you are concerned about someone you supervise or work with, the most important thing anyone can do is to have the tough conversation and dare to intrude. You have the most important tool already within your possession, and you use it every day as part of your job: compassion. It is OK to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide. Talking about suicide will not cause someone to attempt suicide, but it may save someone from it.
Learn about the mental health resources available to you through the department which are confidential. This can include the First Responder-specific crisis line Safe Call Now (206-459-3020), seeking mental health counseling BEFORE something becomes a crisis, discussing your concerns with your primary care provider, and seeking substance abuse treatment if needed.
Thank you for reading about, participating in, or scheduling your important Qliance Health Evaluation©.
When we have all of your Qliance Health Evaluation© results, we will provide you with a complete summary with recommendations and next steps. If you have any questions, please contact your provider or the clinic at (206) 913-4737.
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