As the chimes of midnight sounded out on December 31, 2003, many of us chanted our New Year's resolutions in time to Auld Lang Syne, committed to following through on our pledges to reform/revamp/revitalize our lives. But now February has rolled around, and it's hard to recall exactly what our resolutions were, let alone remember if we have stuck by them. This is one reason why we decided to launch our new supplement, Fit for Life in EMS, in the February issue (see page 79). We wanted to catch readers as their resolve faded and their resolutions evaporated in the cold winter air. The mission this year, should you choose to accept it, is to become fighting fit—to meet the challenges ahead with a body that is as physically primed as your mind is mentally prepared.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the biggest crisis facing Americans today is that of obesity. Many pundits call it the terror within, and if we wanted to find a way to slowly kill a population, obesity would qualify as a weapon of mass destruction. You've seen the effects firsthand in your patients, with obesity causing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. According to the CDC, nearly 20% of U.S. adults were obese in the year 2000, a 61% increase since 1991.1 If you operate under the assumption that there are approximately 887,000 EMS providers in the United States, that means that nearly 180,000 medics are considered obese and at as much risk for associated health problems as the patients they care for.2 But let's not get preachy here. This isn't about how you look, it's about how you feel and what you are doing to your body from the inside out. If a major corporation was caught dumping chemicals in water supplies that caused as many health problems as obesity, the entire nation would be outraged. While the media does broadcast stories on how bad the situation is, we display little anger at the fact that Americans are silently killing themselves. Often, it comes down to that all-American claim of, "I have a right to live my life the way I want to." That's true, but we want to assist you in living the best life you can. Of course it's hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you're forced to work ungodly shifts and grab food on the run. Our new supplement will feature articles that offer practical tips on how to embrace the basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle, incorporating a balanced diet and exercise, while living the frenetic life of an EMS provider.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, the mantle of role model has fallen on your shoulders. Hero may not be the role you embraced when you first climbed in the back of an ambulance, but it's what the public considers you to be. We want to make sure you can live up to those expectations. As usual, we welcome your comments. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. 2003 Gold Book Buyer's Guide Statistics. Emerg Med Serv 32(7): 91, 2003.