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Older Volunteer Injury

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  • Older Volunteer Injury

    Trying to make a decision on whether my time is up volunteering. Pushing 43, fully certified, I can still keep up with the others and training. I don’t have problem doing whatever is assigned to me. I recently got a herniated disc ( not on a scene) in my lower back that caused such severe pain and I can hardly walk due to the sharp shooting pain. Dr says you never fully heal and with my age I can expect things to start to degenerate in my body. Recovery time to be back is around 6 weeks provided I don’t need surgery. But he said it can happen again with more strain. I am very active outdoors and live a self sustainable life with my family. I need to count on my body to be there in the future for me. So loafing around I am having a heart to heart with myself about my future and what I need out of it. Not to mention putting others at risk due to my injury. This was a wake up call.

    Anyone else struggling with a decision like this?

  • #2
    I always say it is a young man's game.

    Even though some older's can out run the younger's

    Sounds like since this is not a paid thing, and I am guessing no medical coverage, or very little, You should not risk your future health.

    BUT, stay involved in some other capacity!!!!!!!!!!!



    • #3
      I'm 70 and still run calls. You won't find me dragging hose into a building (you'd be dragging a very exhausted me back out), but I can run the engine as well as anyone, and still run EMS calls. And I've learned to delegate instead of doing some things myself.

      If you can find a niche, stick around. Your training and experience can help mentor the new kids.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


      • #4
        I pulled the plug at 61. Not because I couldn't do it anymore but just because the time was right. My wife and I relocated to a warmer climate and to be honest I don't much miss the tones dropping at 3am. Do I miss the job and the camaraderie? Yes, I do. But not enough to actively seek a volly department to join.

        Now as to MattbChillin's situation, as a Brother Firefighter let me thank you for stepping up and taking on this huge task as a volunteer. We are a dying breed and we know the sacrifices it takes. Now as to your injury, you said it can happen again and be more severe, as well as it being degenerative. Honestly, do you want a few more fires and then a crippling injury or more years with your family and living your life as you choose? As someone previously posted you could remain active in another role, fire inspector, equipment maintenance, safety officer, fund raising chairman, or take on administrative tasks. Yeah, I know it is not the "fun" part of the job, but it does keep you involved and helping.

        Good luck and be safe!
        Crazy, but that's how it goes
        Millions of people living as foes
        Maybe it's not too late
        To learn how to love, and forget how to hate


        • #5
          @Mattbchillin how long have you been on? Meaning ... do you feel you have more to do? Is it in your blood and you'd miss it? 43 isn't old for a volunteer, and even with a dodgy back, there is a lot you can do to help the department and feel good doing it. (As I've said in other posts, some of our best recruits are in their 40s.) I cannot advise what is right for your health/your back, but what does your heart/gut tell you?

          I hear that you are concerned you might not be fit enough to help your fellow firefighters in a pinch. Yes that is a worry, and a tough new realization to face. That said, we are a team ... maybe there are other/younger/stronger back on scene for muscle, maybe you being there might bring some experience that saved them getting into the pinch. We are a team with all different strengths/weaknesses, none of us is perfect in all areas.

          Talk to your department overhead, see what they advise. Good luck, and thank you for your service.


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