1531 How to be a better firefighter? a guideline to improve your performance, taking care of your physical and mental health

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Abstract

Introduction

Globally, firefighting is a highly stressful, physical and mental demanding occupation. In a study carried out by the principal author, Guatemalan firefighters suffered from musculoskeletal disorders and distress, mainly because of physical unfitness, inadequate eating habits and violence exposure. A teaching intervention was planned with a component of training and the elaboration of a book, designed for Central American firefighters, with the aim of teaching firefighters how to take care of their physical and mental health. The book is already having direct impact on more than 5,000 Guatemalan firefighters.

Methods

The book was planned as a teaching intervention firstly for Guatemalan firefighters and then scope was widened to Central American firefighters. It was conducted using participatory methodology with representatives of firefighters, who designed layout and wrote chapter 1. Collaboration was obtained from toxicology and nutrition experts of Universidad de San Carlos, including senior students, in writing chapters 2, 3 and 4. This University also collaborated in the printing of the first 500 copies. Collaboration was also obtained from Ludwig-Maximillians-Universitat, in writing chapters 5, 6 and 7, as well as the final revision and layout.

Results

The book was electronically issued in 2016 using Ludwig-Maximillians-Universitat networks and hard copies were delivered to Guatemala´s firefighters authorities in a formal ceremony on 2017. More than 3000 of copies are waiting to be printed at Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

Conclusion

This is a perfect example of a successful teaching intervention, with multicenter collaboration, including universities in Germany and in Guatemala, as well as the direct participation of the targeted population.

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