As a nation we are experiencing a new level of worry, stress, fear and panic. As first responders we have taken an oath to protect and serve. Below are a few tips to help you stay healthy and prepared to work. The more we can implement together the better your chances of staying fit for duty.
1. Physical Fitness
Physical preparation is key to maintaining readiness, but a workout that drains you and could leave you depleted for a day or two may not be the best idea over the next few weeks.
– Maintain current training programs and routines while being mindful of your workout intensity.
– Consider postponing max effort sessions, physical testing, or anything that may reduce immunity to extremely low levels during high alert periods.
– Prioritize recovery efforts that get you back to optimal performance as soon as possible. Prepare properly for your training sessions with a dynamic warm up and recover well with things like stretching and foam rolling when you can.
2. Nutrition & Hydration
While we should all be eating a healthy and nutritious diet, it doesn’t mean we can 100% of the time. Fueling your body optimally will help reduce your chances of getting sick.
– Consume appropriate portions of nutrient dense foods, including leafy greens, complex carbs, fruits, eggs, salmon and other non-processed, wholes foods.
– Hydrate often and properly. Expect to ingest approximately 2.5 – 3 liters a day, and increase your hydration when you’re exerting more energy or handling taxing calls.
– Pro tip: Increased work loads and energy depleting jobs will require additional re-hydration. Sports drinks and re-hydration tabs / powders will aide in this.
– Excessive alcohol consumption will make you more susceptible to contracting and becoming ill during a pandemic.
In order stay in top physical and mental form you will want to prioritize sleep and recovery methods especially if you have had a busy night with less than adequate sleep.
– Sleep when you can. Consider naps in the 30 minute range, and if you’re able a 90 minute snooze will greatly contribute to your over all well being.
– Attempt to get to bed earlier.
– 7-9 hours of sleep is ideal, but you need to be aware of how you’re recovering.
4. Personal and Workplace Hygiene
A large key to reducing spread is to maintain a high level of personal hygiene and encourage those around you to do so as well.
– Frequent and vigorous hand washing with soap and water. Hand sanitizer will work if soap and water are not immediately available.
– Cover you mouth! Use the crook of you elbow to catch any projectiles associated with coughs, sneezes and other mouth generated debris.
– Insist that patients you are in close proximity to cover their own mouths as to not needlessly expose you and others.
– Stop touching your face! Seriously.
– Wipe down work stations and other high traffic areas in your station.
– Launder your bedding, pillow cases, clothes and other garments more frequently.
– Consider implementing a House Shoes ONLY rule, and try not to wear your work shoes or boot through the station.
5. Social and Public distancing
During this High Alert time period, we need to reduce our contact not only with patients but our crews and other employees as well.
– Consider a safe public distance of 3’-6’ from our co-workers whenever possible.
– Reduce hand shakes, high fives, and other contact that is not mandatory until the risk level decreases.
As first responders we need to have our heads on a swivel and maintain situational awareness. But now the situation has the ability to be invisible and very dangerous. We need to be mindful of our interactions with the public, co-workers and our families. Know the risks, and understand the enemy. We need to stay healthy and fit for duty.
7. Stress Reduction
During times of chaos, things get a little sketchy. This is a great time to employ stress reduction techniques such as mindful breathing practices, yoga, body scanning, guided imagery, and any other practice that allows you to down regulate and reduce unnecessary stress that may reduce your ability to operate at the highest level.
Stay healthy and be mindful,
Chris Warden, O2X Team Member, FF, EMT-P, TSAC-F