CHESAPEAKE, Va. — First responders are used to physical training that helps them respond to any emergency. These emergencies can be taxing on both the body and mind.
"We're focused on clearing up from this incident and getting ready for the next incident," Chesapeake Fire Department Battalion Chief Duane Daggers said. "Many times we don't take time for ourselves to deprogram and process what we've just seen. There are many things that we witness multiple times in a career that some people never have to experience in their whole life."
That's why the department held a new workshop led by O2X Human Performance, a mental and physical training and education company founded by Navy SEALs.
"Our job is to equip them with the tools and resources they need to face those challenges day in and day out," Brice Long, the client services director for O2X, said. "It's awesome to be able to work with the recruit academy because we're seeing them at the foundational level of their career."
This morning, 40 Chesapeake fire recruits took part in the four-day workshop. Lt. Shaun Williams participated with more than 400 other first responders in the department earlier this year.
"It's not just the physical, it also touches on the mental as well which is very big to me," Lt. Williams said.
The training develops skills to reduce injuries on the job. It also allows first responders to endure their careers for as long as 30 years.
"If we're not properly conditioning ourselves, we take more people offline for injuries and illnesses," Battalion Chief Daggers said. "So, that impacts our staff levels. That impacts how much we pay for workers' compensation. That impacts how much we have to pay overtime."
He said the department is already seeing results.
"As they say, one percent better every day," Williams said. "So that really motivated me to improve every day."
Williams said it's a new mindset to lift each other up each day.
Battalion Chief Daggers said the department wants to implement this workshop for all new firefighters. He said the skills learned will also help save the department money on overtime and injuries on the job.
Author's Note: The video below is on file from Sept. 3, 2020.