Impacts of the O2X Integrated Specialist Program – Fire Service (Q3 ’23)


The O2X Integrated Specialist Program (ISP) places elite human performance professionals within an organization. These specialists work on-site at each respective location, implementing programs designed to improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of the organization’s members.


Since the inception of the ISP, departments from across the tactical population, including seven agencies within the fire service, have reaped the benefits of full-time access to human performance professionals.


Check out some of the accomplishments from our On-site Specialists over the course of Q3 ‘23:


Frederick County Division of Fire & Rescue Services – On-Site Specialist Kayla Stonebeck 


 Kayla has been running at full capacity in Frederick. For the first half of the quarter, she had a packed schedule with 3 recruit classes running simultaneously. This added up to 81 recruit firefighters on campus each day participating in various physical training activities. Every morning the recruits complete a 1 hour training session led by OSS Kayla. Recruit class 33 and recruit class 34 completed a final physical fitness test along with the department’s annual WPE (work performance evaluation) as their final steps before graduation. The results of these physical fitness assessments show that each recruit made remarkable improvements when compared to their initial assessments at the beginning of the academy. 


In August, Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services graduated Recruit Class 33 and Recruit Class 34. On completion of graduation from the academy, 48 recruit firefighters were assigned to their stations for their probationary year.  Recruit class 35 still remains in session at the academy with a graduation date set for November. Currently, we have 33 recruits on campus in RC35. They are nearing the end of their time in the academy. 

In addition to the recruit training and educational sessions, Probationary PT Assessments for RC 33 and RC 34 are being completed for their session 2 rookie book requirements. These assessments ensure that the probationary firefighters meet the required physical standards established by FCFR, contributing to their fit for duty status. These assessments consist of the following tests; body composition analysis, push ups, plank hold, 3-min step test, and a mobility assessment. 


Each month OSS Kayla sends out a monthly workout challenge and healthy recipe to the whole department. This has been a popular addition to the program this year. The listed workouts are focused on movement patterns related to job demands and require minimal equipment. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to participate. Along with the workouts, a healthy recipe from the O2X app is highlighted each month. This enables members to be able to try new lunch and dinner ideas at the firehouse table. 


Arlington County Fire – On-Site Specialist Alex Redshaw 



This quarter, Alex Redshaw continued to develop the Arlington County Fire Department’s O2X Human Performance Program to ensure the department is satisfied with the service provided and that it aligns with the expectations of senior leadership. The department’s expectations for the O2X program were revised during the first monthly meeting of the quarter with the Health and Safety Battalion Chief. As such, the following five goals were established:


  • Promote a culture of sustainable health and wellness behaviors

  • Develop a comprehensive support plan for ACFD members who do not pass their annual physicals.

  • Develop a proactive approach to reducing workplace injuries

  • Improve the return-to-work capabilities and processes

  • Upskill, support, and revamp the Peer Fitness Trainer program


In response, Alex could clearly define his responsibilities within the organization moving forward and has set the following new program components in place:


  • To promote sustainable health and wellness within the department, Alex has prioritized achieving full coverage of all stations and shifts each month, where he has delivered education presentations on sleep, fatigue, and performance. This has resulted in several members reaching out to their medical providers to improve their sleep through medical intervention (i.e., purchasing CPAP machines) and creating the opportunity to discuss the importance of sleep with their spouses to improve their sleeping environment and behaviors. Alex also had the chance to deliver a virtual nutrition, hydration, and goal-setting presentation due to a COVID-19 outbreak, preventing recruiting physical training for one week in July.


  • For personnel who do not achieve the physical fitness standards of 10 METs through an exercise stress test or do not satisfy the body composition requirements taken during the annual physical, Alex will now be the first point of contact within the department. Previously, non-compliant personnel were required to engage with a Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT) of their choosing. However, Alex now conducts an initial cause analysis to determine any other factors, outside of physical, that have resulted in the individual getting to this point. From here, Alex has the information to develop a tailored care plan to support these people on their journey back to a compliant level of physical fitness.


  • To develop a program to reduce the number of workplace injuries, Alex has requested the previous seven years of workers’ compensation data, including the narrative text of injuries and how they were sustained. The plan is to determine the association of injuries with specific tasks and the individual’s annual modified CPAT (Duty Fit) results.


  • Alex has contacted the people on the return to work/light duties list to review their care plan and fill in gaps in their physical fitness programs. It is emphasized that, while accounting for the limitations of their specific injury, maintaining a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness is critical in progressing recovery.


  • In the last 12 months, the PFT program has had limited learning opportunities and training sessions for individuals to maintain their accreditation with ACE. However, upon investigation, the IAFF and IAFC have assumed oversite of the old ACF PFT program and run it internally. As such, Alex and the Lead PFT met with members of the IAFF to understand the new program, its accreditation requirements, and benefits to both the individual and the organization. Given the new program requirements for completing units demonstrating continuing education, the variety of O2X workshops (i.e., 1-day, 3-day, etc.) were mentioned and considered.


D.C. Fire & EMS – Program Manager Conner Freeland 


This quarter, within the realm of Return to Work and Recruit Training, business at the Training Academy maintained a high level of performance as the OSS Team conducted over 300 Return to Work therapy sessions and nearly 380 Recruit Training sessions. These programs yielded remarkable outcomes, with 12 individuals successfully returning to full-duty status.  Half of these members returned after surgical processes including an ankle replacement, multiple labrum tears, femur fracture, and a meniscus scope. Most notably at the Academy, Recruit Class 404 graduated with zero injuries, marking the fourth consecutive class to attain this remarkable distinction.


Recruit Class 404’s graduation holds particular significance as the 11th class to complete the O2X Human Performance training program. Their achievement underscores the program’s exceptional safety record. Furthermore, this class demonstrated substantial improvements in strength, lean body mass, and aerobic fitness. Recruits averaged an 8% decrease in body weight while increasing their lean mass by 11%. These impressive enhancements did not go unnoticed, as instructors on the training grounds noted the strength and effectiveness on the fireground.


The On-Site Specialist (OSS) team significantly expanded its reach across the department during this quarter as well. Through the execution of over 120 firehouse visits (the most to date), the OSS team effectively connected with firefighters on a personal level. These interactions included group workouts, mobility sessions, fitness assessments, cooking demonstrations, physical and nutritional consultations, and a few ride-a-longs to continue learning about the stressors of the job.


The O2X Activity Club was launched this quarter and consisted of hiking, biking, walking, and nutrition related activities, similar to the grocery store tours and meal prep classes. With the few activities that have been offered so far, personnel from multiple battalions have attended different events. One member, Ernie Highsmith, went hiking for the first time in his life and found it as a phenomenal new way to gain exercise outside the stereotypical environment offered in DC.  More and more members have expressed interest in participating, and more events will be offered every month.


For the 2nd year in a row, O2X worked with the Action Youth Program, giving them an insight to the performance side of being a Firefighter. This program proved to be a transformative experience for young, aspiring firefighters from inner-city DC. Over the course of six weeks, these students learned about biomechanics, proper training, nutrition, and the emphasis of teamwork, which truly set this program apart. These students enjoyed time competing in games with their peers, instilling a sense of camaraderie and cooperation essential in the world of firefighting. This culmination of 6 weeks left over half of the Action Program attendees hopeful in joining the DCFD as a prospective Cadet.


Another standout achievement of this quarter was the highly impactful 6-week Step Count Challenge. With participation from over 60 DCFD members, what commenced as a friendly competition finished as a frenzy to get the most miles in during the last week!  The final statistics are quite impressive as a collective total of 10,024,846 steps and 4,747 miles were covered by participants. Beyond the numbers, this initiative fostered a sense of camaraderie and a commitment to well-being within the DCFD community.  Below is a message from one of the participants on how this challenge benefited him and his family.


“Thank you for putting together the step challenge. It made me look closely at my daily activity level. After the first week, I knew I had to step up my game. So I made a goal of at-least 20,000 steps a day. Every chance I had I started to either go for a walk or a run. My coworkers at the FH started to take notice that I was spending a lot of time on the treadmill. My family started to participate in daily walks / jogs with me, often twice a day. I capped it off with a 10 mile run in which I have never done before with a surprise cheering crowd on my front porch (wife and kids), when it was completed. The challenge had a positive impact on me and I can’t thank you enough.” – Battalion Fire Chief


Lastly, We are excited to announce the ISP’s continued growth on-site with the arrival of veteran strength and conditioning specialist Raiko Sarduy. His expertise as a collegiate and tactical strength coach will contribute to new health and wellness initiatives, enhanced strength programs, sustained recruit training, and the overall continued success of the ISP within the DCFD.


Howard County Fire – On-Site Specialist Brandon Athey 


 Mid-way through Q2 was when HCFR integrated O2X On-Site Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Brandon Athey. Q3 with O2X consisted of OSS Brandon Athey continuing what was started including, O2X App onboarding, station visits, consults, baseline readiness assessments, monthly O2X flier distribution, monthly workout, monthly recipes, and work with individuals on modified duty.


Q3 saw the start of Trainee Class 37 begin daily PT with O2X OSS Brandon. Initial baseline O2X readiness assessments were conducted, as well as “mid-term” readiness assessments which took place halfway through the class (week 11). Between the baseline assessments and mid-term assessments, TC37 saw a 14% improvement in overall readiness score, from an average of 69.3 for the baseline assessments to a 78.7 for their mid-term assessments. There was also an average increase in weight by 1.4lbs and a total of 98.9lbs for the entire class. 78% of trainees scored optimally on the readiness assessment which is an increase from 32% on their baseline assessments.


Q3 also saw an uptick in individuals who were able to return to full duty ahead of schedule. Q2 saw one individual return early, whereas Q3 saw four individuals return early – 2 weeks early, 3 weeks early, 6 weeks early, and 2 weeks early respectively. Each individual received, and was coached through, an individualized program tailored specifically to their injury. All four of these individuals are also continuing to train with Brandon on a consistent basis. OSS Brandon Athey is also still currently working with 4 individuals on modified duty, with 3 more scheduled to begin during Q4.


Q3 has seen a rise in individual and group training sessions as well. These have been conducted with members of the department who have pre-existing or a history of injuries who do not need to be on modified duty. As the months have come and gone since OSS Brandon began in Q2, there has been a steady increase in individuals throughout the department wanting to schedule out consistent training sessions, whether it be individual or group, with OSS Brandon Athey to help assist and/or improve their physical fitness.


During Q3, OSS Brandon also began weekly station visits. These are broken down per battalion and shift, which gives Brandon the opportunity to see each shift every single quarter at least one time. This is an effort that will be continued for the foreseeable future to continually expose O2X to everyone in the fire department, schedule readiness assessments, schedule group or individual training sessions, review monthly fliers that are sent out, and everything in-between. This effort has helped in increasing O2X utilization across the entire department.


“I started working with Brandon 5 weeks post operation from a 90% Labrum tear and bicep tendinosis surgery. Working with him 2-3 days a week significantly improved my recovery time and confidence in my newly repaired shoulder. His strength and conditioning program is awesome and catered for you specifically. With his help, I was able to speed up my recovery and physical therapy schedule. I returned to full duty 6-weeks ahead of schedule! I plan on continuing training with Brandon and recommend this program to everyone! THANK YOU!” – HCFR FF on Modified Duty.


West Palm Beach Fire – On-Site Specialist Carson Fralin


 The O2X Human Performance program kicked off at the start of July for the City of West Palm Beach Fire Rescue. The On-Site Specialist for WPB Fire Rescue, Carson Fralin, completed over 140 readiness assessments with the help of Captain Charbonneau within the month of July. Thanks to the support from leadership, Carson has been able to observe Fire Rescue training throughout the department from dive search and rescue to breaching tactics. With a handful of physical training sessions and a few personalized training programs already created, Carson has slowly started to address some of the needs of the Fire Fighters within the department.


August ended with over 75% of WPB Fire Rescue having completed the Readiness Assessment. A couple initiatives began this month including the new routine Workout of the Week, which all Fire Service members have access to through the O2X app. Additionally, starting the last week of August, Carson leads weekly group exercise classes three times a week at Station 2 which is available for the entire department to attend. After seeing the gyms at the fire stations, Carson sent some quotes to the department’s leadership with gym equipment recommendations that would benefit their fire service members. The OSS jumped on a call with Engine 3 responding to a residential fire and also went on a call with the Hazmat in Singer Island this month.


Since Carson came on-site he has made 203 station visits with 802 touchpoints. The OSS regularly visits stations everyday and often multiple times a day with the intention of having the department become familiarized with having him around. During this time 287 readiness assessments were completed bringing West Palm Beach Fire Rescue to over 98% completed for the department. Carson has met with department leadership on three separate occasions to discuss expectations and an action plan for addressing the department needs.


Carson has also met with 10 firefighters regarding individual training needs and has written 10 personalized programs. Programs ranging from improving a 500 meter swim time to a foundational strength program to reintroduce them to weight training.


Baltimore County Fire – On-Site Specialist  Benjamin Rosner 


Baltimore County Public Safety integrated an O2X Human Performance On-Site Specialist at the end of Q3. Starting in the last week of August, OSS Benjamin Rosner began to connect with members of BCoFD through fire department station visits which allowed career members to learn who he is and ask questions about O2X and our EAT-SWEAT-THRIVE methodology. Specifically, Ben was able to complete 10 station visits, 3 ride-alongs, and 5 group education consultations. During Ben’s interactions with members of BCoFD, he was able to discuss his capabilities for improving career member’s physical readiness and resiliency. 

September started off with identifying clear objectives for BCoFD in accordance with the HPS “30-60-90” Plan. OSS Ben and Fire Chief Rund outlined three key objectives going forward for BCoFD. First, OSS Ben will coordinate with the BCoFD PFTs to increase outreach within the department through station visits. Additionally, OSS Ben would be responsible for creating and implementing a new FRA PT Plan for the upcoming recruit classes being indoctrinated into BCoFD. Secondly, OSS Ben will start to create a Modified Work Duty Program at BCoFD to help firefighters with restrictions return to full duty. Lastly, OSS Ben will take the lead to identify current injury trends through data consolidation and analytics of previous historical data. Creating a profile of BCoFD injury rates and demographic information would allow for preventive care through a greater foresight on preventable injuries and future training initiatives. 


Once the key objectives were outlined, OSS Ben continued to expand the O2X outreach throughout the BCoFD. He successfully visited every station within the month of September and completed a total of 32 station visits. Furthermore, OSS Ben partook in the BCoFD R.I.T. training initiative by observing 11 R.I.T. Training iterations. In total, OSS Ben was able to make 402 firefighter contacts where he provided an introductory consultation to the O2X EAT-SWEAT-THRIVE methodology and an O2X App on-boarding instructional brief. Furthermore, he was able to capitalize on his outreach by providing education consultations for 48 BCoFD career members that wanted a round-table discussion on various topics to improve physical readiness.


OSS Ben was also able to coordinate with multiple parties (PFTs, FRA career members, and Dr. Reed) on the execution of the PT Plan for the incoming BCoFD FRA class on 10/23. He submitted his PT Plan outline to all respective parties and has been finishing up the final details to ensure RC 121 will be able to significantly benefit from all the O2X resources and periodized PT Plan In addition, OSS Ben was able to coordinate with the Lead PFT, Fire Captain Muscella, and Battalion Chief Hughes to have all BCoFD PFTs attend an O2X Led PT Development day on 10/06 to ensure that PFTs are up to date on current best practices and understand how to use/implement the resources available from O2X. Lastly, the O2X Led PT Development day will also help OSS Ben ensure that all PFTs knowledge-base is standardized for any BCoFD FRA or FD station support.


Other efforts completed by OSS Ben during September include: complete data consolidation of all BCoFD injury reports from 2020-2023, equipment inventory of all BCoFD stations, completing individualized programming for BCoFD career members, and performing 12 readiness assessments for members embarking on individualized programming. 


About O2X Human Performance:

O2X Human Performance provides comprehensive, science-backed programs to hundreds of public safety departments, federal agencies, and the military. O2X works with clients to elevate culture, improve mental and physical wellbeing, support healthy lifestyles, and reduce healthcare costs associated with injuries and illnesses. Driven by results and cutting edge research, O2X programs are designed and delivered by a team of Special Operations veterans, high level athletes, and hundreds of leading experts in their respective fields of human performance