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Diabetics as Firefighters

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  • #16
    Capt and all the others,
    I think that a thread for us to discuss what we have learned is not only a good idea, but also way overdue. I think that we could use this forum to help each other out so that we can do the job that we love, with out becoming liabilities. It is this kind of topic that the forums were intended to serve, not the BS “this department sucks,” or “I think I know more than you and I can prove it here” type threads.
    I want to know what you guys keep in your turn out gear for low supplies. I have a couple of tubes of liquid glucose (if I am really exhausted and sweaty the last thing I want is something really chewy), some of those tubes of orange CVS glucose pills, and my personal favorite, the twizzlers. I don’t like chocolate products because on non-fire calls I find that my body heat can be enough to melt them. That’s it for me, let me know what you guys do.
    Jeff
    Never Stop Learning

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    • #17
      I keep glucose tablets, and a tube of cake mate in my gear (cant stand the taste of the liquid glucose makes me wanna puke) and for the middle of the night calls I grab a can of high calorie supplement drink (Boost) and chug it. Keeps me going when my meal plan didnt quit anticipate that much activity.

      Come on guys lets keep this one going!
      Shawn M. Cecula
      Firefighter
      IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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      • #18
        Im a Volunteer firefighter right now, and am an insulin dependent diabetic. I am in college right now and am trying to pick my major. i want to be a firefighter but want to know for sure if i can be one. I dont want to go through school, and then find out it is impossible for me to become a firefighter. And also want to know if it is possible what steps do i need to take to do so. Oh and also i was told that if i did try that they would come up with a reason to turn me down. How can i make sure this wont happen?

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        • #19
          I have worked with a few diabetic FF's. They know when they need sugar or help. Never had an issue with any of them.
          Chris
          FF/Lic-Paramedic
          Galveston FD "The Big House"
          IAFF Local 571
          www.galvestonfiredept.org

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          • #20
            It can be done

            To make a long story short I had to retire for my full time job as a L.E.O. (Do not bash me to hard, been a POC/Vollie FF for 35 yrs). Anyway I went from 225 lbs to 315, Type 2 to Type 1, Insulin dependent. In december 2005 I new I had to change my life if I wanted to be around for my kids and 10 grand children.

            So I started to diet and exercise, and in december 2006 I was taken off insulin (No more needles) and went back to pills. My A1C went from 9.0 to 6.0. And dropped down to 256 lbs. Yesterday went to doctor my A1C had went up to 6.3 (eating a little different) and weight had dropped to 240 (Yea still losing). Heart and trigliserites (sp) all blood work great. I went back to volunteer department last July and doctor said I was good to go for my duties.. I had never had a problem with my diabeties causing a problem in the past, I knew what to watch for. But it is even better now. I have had great support from family and the members of the department. So those that have a weight problem and the doctor tells you to lose that weight and work out DO NOT SAY IT CAN NOT BE DONE, because it can.

            Stay safe and healthy.

            T.J.

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            • #21
              Look at NFPA 1582. Specifically section 9.6.3 and on. This talks about Type 1 and 2 insulin dependant diabetics. It basically says the firefighter w/ diabetes without specific ongoing testing should not be cleared for three job tasks. These three include wearing PPE that could cause overheating and fluid loss, operate for long periods in an emergency without time to maintain self, and working as a member of a team where you must be relied on.

              Purely informational. This is a tough issue, with alot at stake. Regardless of what medical or physical condition you're in, you must be counted on to give 110% at any given time for an undetermined amount of time. This is hard for tons of firefighters to do.

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              • #22
                this is a great post i have had type 1 diabetes since fourteen and had it under control for a while till my meter miss coded and i had a lot of lows.aside from that i am on track with it again and doing better i am new to firefighting in general and wanted to know one question that i haven't heard addressed yet. my question is to all the diabetic firefighters out there is what do you typically aim for numbers wise on a fire call?


                P.S. i am the one of ten diabetics that adrenaline lowers my glucose levels.


                thanks in advance for the advice!

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                • #23
                  In response to one of the posters:

                  Just for clarification sake, and a little education for those non-type 1's out there reading this, there are two types of diabetes, as referenced here. Type 1 is what used to be called "juvenile diabetes" and although it can appear at any age, it develops predominately in children/teens/young adults.

                  It is an autoimmune disease with no known cause and no cure. Nothing can be done to prevent it. No, the little skinny 9 y/o with type 1 did NOT eat too many sweets to cause this, for some reason his immune system is attacking his insulin-producing beta cells. Type-1 generally involves destruction of all insulin producing cells in the pancreas and thus means that a type-1 without supplemental insulin will not live for more than a few days.

                  Some people can control their blood sugar to within normal limits by testing very often (10-12x/day) and using either multiple injections per day or an insulin pump, a little pager like device that dispenses background insulin constantly, and can be manually adjusted to deliver more or less insulin based on a person's activity level.

                  Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, or the bodies inability to utilize its own insulin. Although lifestyle is not the sole cause (as evidenced by the fact that all overweight people don't develop type-2), there are a variety of lifestyle changes that can be made to help prevent it, namely losing weight. It can progress from diet controlled to oral meds to insulin dependent, and depending on the person and type of care they are taking in the management of the disease, can go off of insulin after being on it a while. However, being insulin dependent does not necessarily make you a type-1, and if you eventually go OFF of insulin after being on it, you are definitely not a type-1. Not all type-2's are fat and not all type 1's are skinny, although both of those do hold true a lot of the time.

                  It seems even ff/EMT's are ill-informed about these differences, as the Basic curriculum has very little info on type-1 vs. type-2. Hope this all makes sense, usually people have no reason to learn the differences unless they know someone directly affected by type 1.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by oldE6man View Post
                    I hate to be the one to pee in the Cheerios, but I have a problem with insulin-dependent diabetics performing suppression activities. One of the previous postings made the case by stating that his first working fire caused him problems. If the situation had gone sour (as all veteran firefighters have experienced), and his partner had become entrapped by a falling wall, etc, this firefighter may have been unable to effect a positive outcome.

                    I know that many diabetics regulate their insulin and glucose levels well, but the chance of extreme exertion is always lurking in the background in our profession. If a diabetic is unable to control his environment (and he certainly cannot control it in a hostile fire situation), I think he could be a liability.
                    Id rather a Type 1 that takes care of himself then an overweight firefighter that could pop at anytime. And lets face it, that is the majority of US firefighters

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Escottie View Post
                      Id rather a Type 1 that takes care of himself then an overweight firefighter that could pop at anytime. And lets face it, that is the majority of US firefighters
                      I was on a vollie department but I knew enough paid guys to know that this job would give anyone diabetes.Times you can't finish your meal,the times you have to work through meals and don't get a chance for more than what's in the fridge from last night,etc,etc etc.
                      My Chief was diabetic(don't know and never asked which type) and he was a stickler for food on scene when we worked long calls.It wasn't just for him.
                      If you know someone is diabetic,learn from him what he wants when he needs help or let the guys that have known him longer handle the situation.You can make a better friend than by presuming to know exactly why he's having trouble before he's told you.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Escottie View Post
                        Id rather a Type 1 that takes care of himself then an overweight firefighter that could pop at anytime. And lets face it, that is the majority of US firefighters
                        thats a big assumption the overweight firefighter could "pop" at anytime. A type 1 could drop at anytime.

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                        • #27
                          Diabetics as Firefighters

                          Originally posted by Canadian Firemedic View Post
                          Yes. I have worked with an insulin dependant diabetic for 3 years and never seen him run into a problem. His team members are aware and he is vigilant in monitoring his own condition. He's one heck of a firefighter.

                          Kudos! I'm so proud of the guys that can control and keep their diabetes in check and do a great job at work. I have read all the posts and yes, there are going to be some pros, cons, and arguments from both sides. I think for many people, some kind of medical condition or disability won't keep them from being able to do well at their occupation, and possibly just make them strive do the best they can, over and beyond.

                          I'd like to share a little bit about me. I don't have DM, type I or II. My dad is type 2. But it's because he's overweight and doesn't do much about it. I am pretty serious about becoming a volunteer firefighter, starting next summer, in 2009. I am 36 years old, but I am somewhat out of shape. So, I'm really motivated to get into shape because I know how much physical work is involved being a firefighter and I want to be able to do my best, physically and mentally. On the other hand, and I'm sure every department has their own policies, that I may need to cut my long hair. But if policies dictate that, then I will.

                          Love,

                          Suzanne
                          Last edited by GaPeach933; 08-07-2008, 12:46 PM.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by GaPeach933 View Post
                            I'm an attractive female, 36 years old, who could lose a few pounds, but I am out of shape.


                            not really sure why that matters, looks like trouble though

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                            • #29
                              Sorry

                              Namless, I guess I should take that out of my posting. I have no idea why I said that...

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by nameless View Post
                                thats a big assumption the overweight firefighter could "pop" at anytime. A type 1 could drop at anytime.
                                and what your saying is not?

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