Fighting Fit


Fighting Fit

By Kim Berndtson May 24, 2011

EMS isn't work for the faint at heart. Nor is it for the faint of body.

Being an EMS provider requires a certain amount of physical abilities, especially when you consider all that is required to pick up someone who has fallen, to carry a patient down a flight of stairs, or to even lift a cot into the ambulance or perform CPR for any length of time.

Todd Platner, a Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Service (KBEMS) EMT-Basic and firefighter in Richmond, KY, realized that, too. That's one reason he penned the book, EMS FITNESS: Get Fit to Save Lives. He also authored corresponding fitness books designed for firefighters and law enforcement officers. recently asked Platner about how his book can benefit EMS providers.

What is your EMS and physical fitness background?

I have been a firefighter/EMT for the past eight years in Richmond. I also have a bachelor of science degree in physical education/adult fitness from Eastern Kentucky University and am certified as a peer fitness trainer with IAFF/ACE American Council on Exercise. I also run a website that designs exercise programs for emergency personnel at

Why did you decide to write EMS FITNESS: Get Fit to Save Lives?

I work with and have seen people who could have avoided injuries or had a better physical body if they just took a few steps to maintain and improve their physical capabilities. This book is not about body building for competition or competing in a 5k run. It is for maintaining a good working body that is able to perform with much less chance of injury and to improve one's self image.

Why did you decide to write three different books? Is fitness different for EMS personnel, firefighters and law enforcement officers?

I have worked many emergency scenes where all three entities were present. I have seen and understand the tasks we all must perform. All emergency personnel are called upon to perform strenuous activities. They also go from a slow to a very active pace in a short period of time. They need to be ready not only with their minds, but with their bodies to perform the physical activities of the job.

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All three exercise guides/journals contain the same exercises, calisthenics and stretches but they are packaged to bring awareness to the three main segments of each target group of emergency workers. All three guides/journals can be found on

Why is being physically fit important for EMS providers?

We're in the profession of protecting and helping the public, but we too often neglect ourselves and our bodies. As EMS providers, our medical knowledge is our brains and how we use them to make life-changing decisions for those we care for. But it takes our bodies to get us to the patients, to get stretchers and other equipment to the patient's side. It requires our bodies to lift, carry, push and pull patients. And in many instances there is an element of rescue where time is important and physical demands are high. Having a body that is well toned, combined with the knowledge of how to lift and twist and turn while performing your duties, is extremely important. Having a body that is prepared and works well will not only prevent rescuers from injuring themselves, but will also make them better able to perform the physical activities necessary.

What are some key points for EMS providers to remember when it comes to exercise?

It isn't hard. It can be done at your own pace. It is a preparation and an investment in your one and only body. But probably the most important thing to remember is that physical fitness prevents injuries and improves your abilities to be an effective EMS provider.

Are there a couple of exercises we can highlight?

If I were to highlight a few exercises, they would be those focused on maintaining a healthy back. I would suggest a back stretching technique and then working with a cable row. "Rows" can also be used with strength bands or free weights.

How is this book different from other fitness books?

EMS FITNESS: Get Fit to Save Livesis a handbook that is designed for individual use. It contains a self test to determine fitness level and a fitness log to monitor progress. It features simple exercises that do not necessarily require a gym membership or personal trainer to benefit from your efforts. Many EMS agencies and fire departments encourage physical fitness and provide a place to exercise so there may be a group you can join to work out together. Again, this book is not a body building book. It is for average emergency service workers who want to improve and protect their bodies from injuries that can be avoided. It is a personal book sized to fit into or clip onto your duty bag, your pocket, your locker or anywhere. It's like packing your physical fitness trainer in your bag.

EMS FITNESS: Get Fit to Save Lives is available through and Amazon.

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