213244 Department of Homeland Security/FEMA Grants: Firefighter Safety and Wellness

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 1:30 PM

Ellen Sogolow, PhD , FEMA/Assistance to Firefighters Grants, contractor for Department of Homeland Security, Englewood, FL
BACKGROUND: Firefighters are our heroes, but they pay a terrible personal price. Firefighters are four times more likely than any other occupational group to suffer job-related fatalities. Beginning in 2004, DHS/FEMA's Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) program provides research and development (R&D) awards for studies that reduce firefighter's fatal and non-fatal injuries.

PURPOSE: The aim of AFG's R&D program is to reduce morbidity and mortality, and improve the safety and wellness of firefighters and other first responders.

DESCRIPTION: Rigorous studies in four areas are eligible for awards: (1) clinical, behavioral, and social studies; (2) technological and product innovation studies; (3) database systems design and development; and (4) technology transfer studies.

RESULTS: Examples of studies will be highlighted. (1) Significant clinical findings were established by Brown, et al. at Indiana University, with the Indianapolis Fire Department. They found changes in heart rate variability not only during firefighting but for an extended time following. (2) In the technological arena, Duckworth and colleagues at Worcester Polytechnic Institute developed a location device that allows centralized monitoring of all deployed firefighters including their physiological status. (3) University of Maryland is developing a minimal database system to support longitudinal tracking of firefighter's health status. (4) NYU Poly and FDNY developed methods to tackle fires in high rise buildings and now work to implement these methods in NYC and elsewhere.

CONCLUSIONS: Many exciting studies are underway. Many more are needed to impact the health and wellness of those who protect us.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the goals of the FEMA AFG research program. Describe the four areas in which awards are made in the program.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Specialist in the grant program being discussed; expertise in fire prevention and public health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.