Students and faculty from the Lee University Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Secondary Education (HESSE) recently assisted the Cleveland Fire Department (CFD) in their “Rookie Training School.”
After having helped in the annual physical fitness assessments of firefighters at CFD in spring of 2018, the faculty and students conducted a research project this fall on those still in the process of becoming a firefighter.
The testing was led by Lee Athletic Training faculty Drs. Racheal Lawler, Taz Kicklighter, and exercise science faculty, Mark Wickam and Mike Iosia. Students involved include Casey Brooks and Audrey Covington, from the athletic training graduate program; Marissa Villafuerte, athletic training undergrad; and Becca Brewer, Connor Gerry, and Zac Green, exercise science majors.
“This was a very educational experience for all of us,” said Lawler. “The students got to see firsthand how their work can help others and their community.”
The Lee team came in weeks seven, eight, and nine of the 14-week Rookie Training School. The firefighters in training were learning how to react in high stress situations and maneuver through a pitch black maze, among other things, all while wearing their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). On top of these challenges, training was conducted in August where the heat from wearing the SCBA and exercises involving fire were coupled with one of the hottest months of the year.
The testing the Lee students conducted consisted of measuring how the firefighters’ bodies sustained themselves during their training in terms of hydration status and their bodies’ reaction to the stress. To provide the most accurate data, Lee University provided the fire department access to its InBody 770, a machine that gives a segmented look at muscle, fat, and skeletal mass. The machine, using electric currents, gives detailed results on the user’s body, which allows them to know how their body carries and stores fat. Lawler explained that the firefighters’ weight had to stay within a three percent margin to ensure their bodies were holding up to the training. Using the InBody 770 allowed them to track exactly how the firefighters’ bodies were reacting.
“Chief Van Dusen noted that for the first time in CFD history, no trainees had to leave early due to heat-related illness,” said Lawler. “It was humbling to be able to see the real benefit our testing had.”
Villafuerte, a McNair scholar, will present the research and methods conducted for CFD at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine held in May 2019