Blog by Richard Blackmon
Captain, Fulton County Fire Rescue Department (Ga.)

I want to share a personal experience you may understand all too well. Recently, when I stepped out of the shower, I looked down and didn’t see my feet. You can imagine my horror. I began to panic, where did they go?

I started to look in the shower to see if they might have fallen off, but was scared to move in case I fell over. Standing there flustered and alarmed, I took a deep breath and slowly bent down to search for my missing feet. It only took a second to realize I did in fact still have feet, they were just hidden by my increasingly over-sized stomach.

What is the point of this you might ask? Well, I had become overweight and at that moment, I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

I am turning 51 years old this year and things need to change. With that in mind, I put a plan in place. I have had a treadmill for years and it has had many roles in my household, most notably, a holding area for my clothes and a storage area for my belongings. But I decided it was time to make that treadmill my best friend. After all, it just might be what saves my life.

My wife and I removed some of the clutter the treadmill was collecting, cleaned the dust away and plugged it in. I didn’t expect it to work, but after a few seconds it came back to life and I jumped on. It was tough at first, but you know what, it’s starting to get easier now.

Motivated with a goal in mind, I’m now ready for my next challenge: lifting weights. I’ve started working out on a daily basis and am walking two miles per day. It’s only been a few short weeks, but I already feel better.

I thought, as long as I am doing all of this exercising, eating better, etc., I might as well go all the way. I decided to make an appointment for my yearly physical.

Those of us serving as emergency responders have a demanding, stressful and important job. But if you look at the statistics, most firefighters don’t die in a burning building or at the scene of a natural disaster. They die from a heart attack. It’s time to take health and wellness safety for firefighters seriously.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be around for a long, long time. I want to continue my career and carry on helping the people of my community. I want to see my grandkids one day.

If you read this far, you may be like me. I hope you’ll take the time to do a self-analysis of your physical well-being. If you need to make some changes, there is no better time than now.

Be safe. Be healthy.

About the Author
Richard Blackmon is a captain with the Fulton County Fire Rescue Department in Fulton County, Georgia. He has worked in the fire service for more than 15 years and is a training officer for his department. He is an adjunct instructor with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the Department of Homeland Security as a terrorism awareness instructor. He retired from the US Air Force as a master sergeant and saw combat in Grenada, Panama and the first Gulf War.