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Education/Training

Five Questions With: Mae Silva on Bridging the EMS ‘Fitness Gap’

Mae Silva is on a mission to improve the fitness and conditioning of her EMS brethren, one belly at a time. And she’s not accepting the typical excuses of “no time, no equipment, no idea how to begin.”

She does bent rows with stretchers and bicep curls with O2 bottles!

Silva is the host and creator of Exercise with Mae Silva, a YouTube series dedicated to fitness and wellness and its ability to keep EMS providers injury-free, healthy and on the job. Silva insists that simple exercise movements and modest adjustments to nutrition and lifestyle can add up to meaningful improvements to your overall health profile.

Silva’s videos will be featured during EMS World Expo 2020, a virtual event Sept. 14–18, 2020.

EMS World spoke with Silva to learn about her background and her dedication to the high-energy lifestyle.

EMS World: What is your background and how did you get involved in EMS?

Silva: My name is Mae, and I’m the creator of “EMS: Exercise with Mae Silva!” I'm a proud Army wife, a dog mom, and an EMT who loves to exercise! My EMS career began when I came across a rollover MVA on the interstate. Long story short, I helped control bleeding from a neck injury, and for the rest of the day couldn’t shake the feeling of, “this is what I’m meant to do with my life.” That feeling has stayed with me in my four years as an EMT.

What is your current EMS position and what is a typical day on the job?

I’m certified as an AEMT through National Registry. I currently work at a private service in Nashville, Tennessee. My typical work day consists of anywhere from 3–5 calls in a 12-hour shift, and any time I'm not running calls, I’m working out around the ambulance and creating videos for my channel!

Talk about your passion for keeping EMS providers fit and well-conditioned. 

EMS is consistently ranked one of the riskiest jobs in the U.S. Sure, we all hear “lift with your legs, not with your back!", but the number one reason first responders leave EMS is due to injuries. We as a profession must take action and create a culture of health and safety. I love being an EMT, and I can’t imagine having to give up this job because of a preventable injury. The long shifts and exhausting hours we all work make it difficult to exercise off shift, and all too easy to eat fast food for every meal while working. A recent study showed that 75% of fire and EMS recruits were either overweight or obese. My goal is to show everyone in EMS that we can exercise on our downtime at work, using equipment found in the back of the rig! Once this becomes a priority, I believe we will not only see a boost in morale, but a decrease in the amount of first responders leaving EMS.

If you could recommend a few simple ways to begin for the complete novice, what would they be?

Start your shift with stretches! Throughout a day in the life of an EMT, our bodies are put through a lot. Moving patients, lifting the stretcher, going up and down stairs with all our equipment, even sitting in an ambulance for long periods of time—they all take a huge toll on our bodies. If you go into your shift with your muscles already loosened up, you significantly reduce the risk of injuring yourself on the job. It’s also a fun way to start your shift, and a good bonding activity for all the crews to do together. As far as exercises go, I’ve just released a 5 Minute Full Body Workout video on my YouTube channel, so that's perfect for beginners.

What’s next? Are there any initiatives or projects you would like to mention?

I’m creating a website titled EMS: Exercise with Mae Silva! where I’ll be offering personalized health and fitness plans for interested companies ranging from basic stretches, to full crew meal preps, to daily exercise check-offs. As for now, my goal is to spread the word about my channel as far and wide as I can, so I can grow my “EMS fam” and hopefully spark some change in the world of EMS!

Jonathan Bassett is editorial director of EMS World. Reach him at jon@emsworld.com

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