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April 13, 2016

Wellness program targets EMS providers

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — A county's health network is providing wellness lessons targeted at EMS providers.

TribLive.com reported that the Allegheny Health Network, called Mission Wellness, is designed to promote health among emergency medical personnel. According to statistics from AHN, a 2015 sampling of EMS providers showed that 44 percent are pre-hypertensive; 38 percent are pre-diabetic; 67 percent have moderate-risk to high-risk levels of cholesterol; and 45 percent have high-risk or very high-risk triglyceride levels.

Another study indicated that 75 percent of EMS recruits are obese or overweight. Through a $97,000 grant, AHN is signing up 350 EMS providers for their fitness program. Each participant will receive a Fitbit fitness tracker to help monitor exercise activity and health coaches will be used to help EMS personnel improve their nutrition, fitness and well-being.

"Paramedics and EMTs historically put everybody before them," Robert Twaddle, director of AHN's Prehospital Care Services, said. "It's about time somebody focuses on their health and well-being. We need to help keep them healthy and happy and able to live a long and healthier lifestyle."

The goal of Mission Wellness was to expand enrollment beyond 350. By last week, 300 had signed up.

"Our goal is to transform the EMS culture, one step at a time. These men and women are dedicated and skilled professionals, too often overlooked as they work long hours at multiple, stressful jobs," Robert McCaughan, vice president of Prehospital Care Services at AHN, said. "Such a large-scale effort to improve the health of EMS providers has never before been attempted in this region, and we are grateful to the Highmark Foundation for making it possible."


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