California Professional Firefighter's (CPF) 2023 CalJAC conference highlights the San Diego Fire-Rescue's Health & Safety Office Wellness Program as a model of what comprehensive looks like.
Video credit: FIRESTAR STUDIOS
Creating a safe and healthy workforce through a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to total health and well-being.
Provide guidance to promote optimal health, safety, environment, and equipment for all employees.
Promoting Safe and Healthy Lives
The Health and Safety Office offers 24/7 assistance to firefighters, lifeguards, dispatchers, civilians, retired employees, and their families on building resiliency, emotional well-being, alcohol, substance use intervention, mental health services, peer support, and more.
The Health and Safety Office operates a 24-hour Wellness Hotline for SDFD personnel. Whenever an employee needs help or someone to talk to, trained Wellness Unit members are ready to answer the phone and provide services for the employees 24 hours a day.
SDFD is one of many public safety agencies offering the first responder wellness mobile app, Cordico, to all its employees and their families. Cordico provides a one-stop shop for all wellness information, articles, and programs. Fire-rescue personnel and their families can contact peer support, chaplains, and FOCUS psychological services through smartphones.
SDFD's Peer Support Program utilizes firefighters, lifeguards, dispatchers, and civilians within the department to assist fellow officers with emotional support and ensure a member's needs are met during and after critical needs.
The San Diego Fire-Rescue Chaplain Program was established in 1969 to assist our employees and their families. Chaplains are volunteers from different religious faiths who understand the pressures of today's living and the unusual problems First-Responders encounter.
Chaplains also volunteer to become Crisis Response Canine (CRC) handlers to serve our members, their families, and those in the community.
Chaplains do not represent a particular denomination but care for the spiritual and emotional needs of all sworn and civilian personnel. The faith of the employee supersedes the faith of the attending chaplain.
The Health and Safety Office coordinates a Family Wellness Day on the first Saturday before the academy graduates. Focus Psychological Services, Health and Safety, and SDFD chaplains lead this day. The training day introduces new firefighters, lifeguards, dispatchers, and their families to the Fire-Rescue Department's wellness resources.
This training provides realistic expectations about the psychological impact the job may have. Family members and any personal support persons who will be available throughout their careers are encouraged to attend.
San Diego Fire-Rescue utilizes a holistic approach to the overall wellness of our firefighters and lifeguards. This is accomplished through our Physical Wellness program. Each member goes through an annual physical that incorporates a full blood panel, a head-to-toe exam by a physician, strength and conditioning coaching, sub max stress test on the cardiovascular system, and a nutrition station. In addition to the preventive screening processes, SDFD has access to a certified Athletic Trainer for injury prevention and recovery.
In 2015, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department started the Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program (CAPP). It's well known that firefighters have an elevated risk of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as a Group 1-known carcinogen. CAPP is a targeted campaign to assist firefighters by implementing infrastructure upgrades, best practices, and policy changes. This program also supports SDFD firefighters diagnosed with cancer and their families.