Investing in First Responder Wellness Leads to Monumental Cost-Savings


By Kara Pogue, O2X Contributing Writer

First responders continually risk their lives for our communities. At any given moment they are willing to lay their life on the line for the wellbeing of others. It should go without saying that, in return, investments into the health and wellness of first responders are entirely worth the cost. 

Of course, we can’t ignore fiscal restraints when determining what programs should be delivered to first responder communities. But, what if I told you that investing in first responder health and wellness could actually save departments money? 

Hard to believe, but the numbers speak for themselves, and they show that departments who have partnered with O2X Human Performance are saving a significant amount of money. Here’s how they do it:

O2X provides customized wellness programs for public safety departments, the military, and federal agencies. Their services include consulting, in-person training and education, On-Site Specialists, Readiness Assessments, and cutting edge online tools. These programs are customized for every mission, size, and need, and are helping departments across the country increase productivity, health, and well-being, while saving money in the process.

Take for example, Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) in Virginia. ACFD partnered with O2X Human Performance in April 2021, staffing a full time Human Performance Specialist on site. This initiative allowed ACFD to provide health and wellness training to members of the department with the goal of decreasing injury, increasing job readiness, building mentally and physically resilient Firefighters, and improving the overall well-being of the department.

Working with O2X and on-site specialist Trevor Sheasley, ACFD has an expected cost-savings of $474,707 in 2022. That includes approximately $54,000 savings in chronic back pain recovery, $315,000 savings with three members return-to-work after passing METs standards, and $105,770 savings from a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease based on body fat percentage. 

 Perhaps most important, these cost savings actually mean that members of the department are seeing improved health and wellness.

“I can honestly say I am an improved employee because of [Trevor’s] teaching and coaching. I look forward to a continued working relationship with him. The Arlington County Fire Department has been well served by [Trevor’s] work, dedication, and leadership,” says the Battalion Chief.

As more members continue engagement with the Human Performance Program, the department will sustain fewer injuries, return to work faster, lower the risk of reinjury, and provide a better service to the citizens of Arlington County. In the most conservative of estimates, if the program is able to return five injured firefighters per year back to work 15% faster and avoid five preventable injuries, it will save the department more than $324,663 in salary, overtime, and medical expenses annually.

If this sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Departments across the country are seeing similar results working with O2X. 

At Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services (DFRS), insurance claims continue to trend downward since partnering with O2X and On-Site Specialist Kayla Schmit in 2019. Pre-O2X, insurance claims totaled more than $1 million a year, but in fiscal year 2021, the total cost incurred was less than $550,000. 

O2X and the On-Site Specialist have been able to continue reducing injury costs and claims, even as the department grew from 429 members in 2019 to 529 members in 2022. Frederick County Fire says, “O2X has been a great resource to the department. They have shown that they truly care about the people they work with.” 

Washington DC Fire & EMS (DCFEMS) partnered with O2X Human Performance in October 2020, staffing a full-time Human Performance Specialist on site. The team of one O2X On-Site Specialist quickly became a team of four specialists, including a Program Manager, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Registered Dietitian, and Athletic Trainer and Injury Prevention Specialist. 

In spring 2022, the O2X program was incorporated into the Police and Fire Clinic as well as the DCFEMS Safety, Health, and Wellness Program to provide training, education, and rehabilitation to department members with the goal of reducing the risk of injury due to unsafe practices or choices. DCFEMS’s objective is to provide and operate with the highest possible level of safety and health for all members.

A goal they’re achieving, according to first responders working there. “Working with O2X has quite literally changed my life. My knee feels more stable than ever, my confidence to do the job is through the roof, and I’m now free of all back pain.”

Investing in the health and wellness of first responders is always the main objective, and those results are priceless. But everyone likes to save money too, right? While there may be some upfront costs to the programs O2X offers, the cost savings are significant. Just like in Arlington and Frederick County, DCFEMS is seeing the financial benefit of a partnership with O2X.  A conservative estimate of return-to-work and walk-in fitness session savings for DCFEMS is over $4 million.

To learn more about O2X’s initiatives, and how our approach can help your department best serve your tactical population, while also saving money, check out our website. And for more information about the customized services we can provide, please reach out to us here.