In collaboration with Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Garnet Health, the Sullivan 180 Healthiest Fire Department Challenge focuses on the health and wellbeing of our county’s firefighters. Firefighting is both a physically and emotionally demanding job. Firefighters put themselves at risk each time they respond to a call. According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, from the moment the tones drop, a firefighter’s heart rate increases by 47 beats per minute. The dangerous work, heavy uniforms, and high risk environment; accompanied by concerns of high blood pressure, heart health, and disturbed sleep patterns, are significant health stressors.
The Healthiest Fire Department Challenge kicks off on January 1 and ends on September 1. The Challenge is designed to be easy, but impactful. Participating fire departments will engage in activities to enhance their physical and mental health, such as walking a local trail, holding a “drink water” campaign, hosting a Mental Health First Aid training, or incorporating healthy meals at drill nights. Departments will receive credit in the form of “turtle points” for each health focused activity they complete. Throughout the challenge, Sullivan 180 will track and highlight the activities and accomplishments of the participating departments. Awards ranging from $500 to $15,000 will be announced at the Sullivan County Volunteer Firefighters Parade on Saturday, September 9. The two departments that earn the most turtle points will be eligible for a grant in the amount of $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. These grants are made possible with generous support from Aileen Gunther.